GENEVA — The Holy See’s permanent observer to the United Nations in Geneva called on the international community to assist Nigeria and neighboring countries to rid the region of Boko Haram insurgency.
“The Holy See urges an international collaborative effort to address this crisis situation with urgency so as to prevent the extension of Boko Haram and other terrorist groups and their strategy of inflicting suffering on local people and to destabilize Africa even further,” Archbishop Silvano Tomasi told a session of the U.N. Human Rights Council April 1.
Nigeria and its neighbors, including Cameroon, Benin, Chad and Niger, have been beset by Boko Haram’s violent campaign to impose Islamic rule in the region. Based in northeastern Nigeria, leaders of the insurgents have claimed credit for a series of bombings and gun attacks on public markets, churches and isolated communities since 2009.
He said the insurgency requires an “urgent and effective response.” Citing Pope Francis in an address to diplomats accredited to the Holy See in January, Archbishop Tomasi called the situation in Nigeria and its neighbors “a scourge which needs to be eradicated, since it strikes all of use, from individual families to the international community.”
The archbishop also expressed concern that Boko Haram’s recent announcement that it was aligning with the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria shows that “such extremist groups are growing like cancer, spreading to other parts of the world.”
“Crimes in the name of religion are never justified. Massacring innocent people in the name of God is not religion but the manipulation of religion for ulterior motives,” the archbishop told the council.
“It appears the time is ripe for the international community to assist in bringing an end to the violence, which has caused numerous civilian victims,” Archbishop Tomasi said. “Before such violations of international human rights and humanitarian laws we cannot afford to have a posture of indifference that would lead to the widening contagion of violence and also set a dangerous precedent of non-action in response to such horrific crimes.”