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Boko Haram

Volume 589: debated on Wednesday 17 December 2014

My recollection is that we take this matter very seriously indeed with respect to—sorry, I have misappropriated the question. [Interruption.] I apologise, Mr Speaker

Boko Haram can only be defeated by action by the Nigerian Government on a security front and on a development front and by provision of leadership. We in DFID have doubled our programme of investment in the north-east of Nigeria and are working to that end.

I thank the Minister for that reply. The active targeting of schools by Boko Haram, and also in Peshawar this week, shows that there is no limit to the barbarism and depravity of such extremists. In tackling such extremists it is important that the security forces maintain civilised standards. Is my right hon. Friend aware of the investigations by Amnesty International and can he assure the House that no DFID projects inadvertently or indirectly harm people by lowering the standards of the security forces?

We take that report very seriously indeed. Human rights abuses exacerbate insurgencies. I can give my hon. Friend that assurance that we do not fund or support in any way the security forces that are responsible for those actions. Indeed, our programme of Justice for All—J4A—ensures that all Nigerians can have access to better justice and human rights.

The Nigerian military have made considerable territorial gains in recent weeks. How can we build on that situation to ensure that there are free and proper elections next year?

We have a deepening democracy fund through which we are providing support for those elections next year. With respect to the advance of Government forces, we are providing intelligence and direct tactical training to the Nigerian army. The elections themselves must be a matter for the Nigerians, but we are providing the funding and the technical support.

We heard recently in the all-party group on malaria and neglected tropical diseases, which I chair, of a very important DFID programme to counter severe malaria in northern Nigeria. Can my right hon. Friend assure me that this programme will be continued and that efforts by Boko Haram to stop such development work will not be countenanced?

We are increasing our spend in northern Nigeria. Indeed, 60% of our spend in Nigeria is in the north-eastern areas, so I can give my hon. Friend that assurance.

What happened to the 700 women and children who were abducted some months ago? There was a big fuss about that in the Chamber. What has happened to them and what is your Department doing about it?

Of the girls who were abducted in Chibok, 219 remain missing. Since then another 300 have been abducted elsewhere. We are providing a joint intelligence cell, together with our allies in France, the United States and Nigeria, based in Abuja, and all the technical assistance that we can give.