UN Chief Guterres Backs Nigeria’s Integration of Surrendering Insurgents

UN Chief Guterres Backs Nigeria's Integration of Insurgents (News Central TV)
Berlin, Germany – November 04: Antonio Guterres, High Commissioner for Refugees of UNHCR, attends a press conference in german foreign office on November 04, 2015 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Michael Gottschalk/Photothek via Getty Images)

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Tuesday he fully supported moves to expand facilities to reintegrate surrendering insurgents in northeastern Nigeria because it was a key step to achieving peace in Africa’s most populous nation.

Nigeria has been fighting the Insurgent group Boko Haram and the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) for more than a decade, in a conflict that has killed thousands and displaced millions.

The government is reintegrating fighters who have voluntarily surrendered as part of its efforts to end the conflict.

Since last year, at least 40,000 Boko Haram fighters and their families have surrendered to police, according to Borno state Governor Babagana Zulum, as the group recovers from the murder of its leader in early 2021 and rival ISWAP moves to absorb them.

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UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres

In the Borno state capital, Maiduguri, Guterres visited a camp housing some surrendered rebels and another housing internally displaced persons, later telling a news conference that the integration program will assist establish peace.

Guterres said; “The governor has told me that you need to create new facilities to be able to have effective reintegration of these ex-terrorists, ex-combatants, and I promised that we would be fully supportive of that project.

“The best thing we can do for peace is to reintegrate those who in the moment of despair became terrorists but now want to become citizens and to contribute to the well-being of their brothers and sisters.”

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The reintegration of the insurgents causing problems, particularly in Maiduguri, where tired residents have been the target of Boko Haram’s violent attacks for more than a decade.

Guterres called for ongoing humanitarian aid in Borno, but stressed that those in camps ultimately wanted to return home “in safety and dignity.”

Although humanitarian agencies warn it is still unsafe for people to return to their homes, the Borno state government began shutting some camps for internally displaced persons in December, citing improved security and the surrender of Boko Haram fighters.

Guterres arrived in Nigeria on Tuesday to meet with families affected by the insurgency.

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He travelled from Niger, another nation that has been targeted by al-Qaeda-linked militants in recent years

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