Rights chief leads call to take action on Boko Haram “carnage”

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Nigerian refugees rest in the Cameroon town of Mora after fleeing Boko Haram attacks. Photo: UNHCR/D. Mbaoirem

Boko Haram’s “despicable and wanton carnage” must be stopped, the UN’s human rights chief said on Wednesday, amid signs that it was taking on a “disturbing regional dimension”.

Speaking at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Commissioner Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein detailed gruesome crimes involving children apparently carried out by the insurgents in north-east Nigeria and in neighbouring countries.

Those responsible for the “appalling abuse” must be brought to justice, the High Commissioner said, before stressing the need to redress the “discrimination and deprivation” that encourage extremism.

Daniel Johnson has more.

At a special session at the UN’s top human rights body, high commissioner Al Hussein said it was time that the international community took action against Boko Haram for its “appalling violations”.

The people of Nigeria, Niger and Cameroon had all been victims of the extremists’ “massive abuse”, the high commissioner told member nations, whose job is to decide whether to set up a UN probe.

Since 2009 the terrorist group had been particularly murderous, High Commissioner Al Hussein said, their actions leaving 15,000 people dead in north-east Nigeria and well over one million people displaced.

The UN rights chief told delegates how the extremist group had enslaved women and girls and forcibly recruited children who were used as “expendable cannon-fodder” in combat or suicide missions.

“Bodies of children around 12 years old have been found strewn around such battlefields; the group has also repeatedly used young children as human bombs, including a case of a 14-year-old girl carrying a baby on her back who detonated a bomb in a market place.”

The high commissioner’s call for action was echoed by Pierre Buyoya, representing the African Union.

He condemned the “blind nature” of Boko Haram’s abuse and said they were a global threat after aligning themselves with terrorist group ISIS.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations

Duration: 1’20”

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