US official visits Boko Haram-hit states

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The US Under Secretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy and Human Right, Ms Sarah Sewall, Tuesday begins a 10-day visit to the Lake Chad Basin states where Boko Haram insurgency has led to massive displacement and a widespread humanitarian crisis, according to the United Nations.

The trip to Nigeria, Chad and Cameroon till November 3, will focus on a range of issues related to civilian security “with an emphasis on the fight against Boko Haram,” the US State Department said in a statement.

“Countering violent extremism more broadly, and the dire humanitarian and stabilisation needs in the Lake Chad Basin region,” read the statement.

Civil society

In Nigeria, Ms Sewall is expected to meet with government officials, civil society, and the international community “to raise urgent humanitarian and stabilisation challenges” along with the need for a political resolution to the ongoing crisis in the Niger Delta.

Her visit comes less than two weeks after the release of 21, out of the more than 200 Chibok schoolgirls, abducted by the Boko Haram in April 2014.

“She will also meet with women and girls who had been captured by Boko Haram to learn about their unique challenges returning and reintegrating into society,” the statement said further.

The US official is also scheduled to discus with the inter-faith and civil society leaders on their role in countering corruption, “refuting violent ideologies, and reducing religious and communal tensions”.

Violent extremism

In Chad, Ms Sewall will hold talks with state officials, the civil society and UN officials on the Boko Haram, associated humanitarian challenges and countering violent extremism.

Similarly, in Yaoundé, she will meet with government officials, UN agencies and civil society groups to discuss challenges posed by the Boko Haram, violent extremism and the humanitarian crisis.

The Lake Chad region has been frequently targeted by the Boko Haram and all four countries along with Benin have formed a multinational force of 8,700 soldiers to fight the group.

A report by Unicef in August said years of violence by the Boko Haram insurgency in the Lake Chad basin had led to a worsening humanitarian crisis that has displaced 1.4 million children and left at least one million still trapped in hard-to-reach areas.

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