An official of the United Nations, Martin Griffiths, says Nigeria cannot defeat the Boko Haram and ISWAP fighters on the battlefield.
While speaking in an interview with Associated Press, Griffiths, head of the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, said the terrorists remained dangerous and threatening.
According to him, the crisis needs more than $1 billion in aid in 2022 to assist those hit by the decade-long conflict.
“You can’t be won on the battlefield,” Griffiths said as he urged more community development efforts.
“You win civil wars in the minds of the people who live there. If you don’t have the communities on your side, it doesn’t really matter how much else you’ve got on your side. You won´t make peace,” he said.
Griffiths urged the world not to forget the continuing devastation caused by Boko Haram and its offshoot, the Islamic State West Africa Province, together blamed for killing tens of thousands of residents and displacing millions.
“This is a very different kind of operation and very difficult also to deter … a grave and clear and present danger, obviously, to the people and a priority for the government,” Griffiths said in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.
“The world needs to remember this is a tragedy that needs to be sorted out.”
Boko Haram, Nigeria’s homegrown Islamic extremist rebels, launched an insurgency in the country’s northeast in 2009, to fight against western education and to establish Islamic Shariah law in Nigeria.
Their rebellion has spread over the years to the neighboring West African countries of Cameroon, Niger and Chad.
The conflict has resulted in approximately 35,000 deaths, according to the U.N. Development Program.