4 July 2019
British MP Kate Osamor has criticised the government of President Muhammadu Buhari for not acting “earnestly” against the “scourge of violence” in Nigeria. Osamor, who was born in North London to Nigerian parents, was speaking during a House of Commons debate on “forced displacement in Africa”.
The debate was based on the 10th report of the House of Commons’ International Development Committee, Forced displacement in Africa: Anchors not walls, and the UK government response.
The MP for Edmonton in North London said: “Like many honourable members, I remain distraught by the number of people forcibly displaced. One person or family displaced is tragic, but 20 million is horrendous and intolerable. I feel passionately about the subject as a British-born Nigerian and as a representative of Edmonton, which is a special, vibrant and multicultural place. Many of my constituents come from countries such as Nigeria, Ghana, Jamaica, Somalia, Zimbabwe, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Turkey, Yemen, Uganda or Cyprus—to name just a few. I have not named them all; please do not be offended. Most have ties to countries affected by high levels of displacement.”
She added: “The scourge of violence in Nigeria is under-reported and, sadly, not acted on earnestly by the Federal Government of Nigeria. The crisis in the Lake Chad basin is in its 10th year. Escalating violence, including deliberate targeted attacks on civilians, has characterised the conflict, hindered humanitarian access and rendered any long-term development impossible. Long years of conflict with Boko Haram and the Islamic State in West Africa have perpetuated the humanitarian crisis throughout the four countries of the Lake Chad basin, but the roots of the crisis are long-standing. It is the product of widespread inequality, political marginalisation and competition for scarce resources, particularly water, and other developmental challenges, which have contributed to its severity and complexity.”
Osamor also said: “According to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, in 2018, 541,000 new displacements were recorded in Nigeria; 200,000 of them occurred in the middle-belt region and the rest were due to Boko Haram. Almost one in three women report having experienced sexual violence committed by members of Boko Haram, the security forces or the armed forces during the conflict. Violence against men and boys is also prevalent, with many killed, detained or recruited, or otherwise unaccounted for.
“The Nigerian Government urgently need to propose action to ensure that security operations identify better ways of distinguishing between combatants and civilians. They must also investigate and challenge abuses and exploitation by authorities, and take concrete steps to ensure that fundamental human rights are respected. When there is evidence that human rights have been violated, those cases must be sent to the International Criminal Court. I ask the Minister, what assistance is the UK offering the Nigerian Government via non-governmental organisations to ensure that all the evidence is being securely collated and documented?”
Responding to Osamor, Harriett Baldwin, the Minister of State, Department for International Development, said: “… we are doing everything we can to encourage the newly re-elected Nigerian Government to tackle the challenges in north-east Nigeria. It was tempting for them to say in the run-up to the election, ‘Look, we’ve solved the problem. Everything’s okay.’ We all recognise that it is not okay. Our North East Nigeria to Transition to Development programme is our top programme in Nigeria and is worth £85.9 million. I assure her that the problems around the Lake Chad basin are at the forefront of our agenda.
“The hon. Lady will know that near Rann, many refugees were chased over the border into northern Cameroon and that there was a process of refoulement to take them back to Nigeria. We were able to intervene with the Cameroonian Government to say, ‘That is not how you treat refugees’.”