The United States Monday pledged $5 billion to support the fight against Nigerian terrorist organization Boko Haram and is looking for additional ways to support African governments to help eradicate the militant group. The additional funds will go to the Multinational Joint Task Force, a coalition of African countries whose focus is on fighting Boko Haram militants. The U.S. is reportedly in counterterrorism discussions with newly sworn in Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, has already trained African peacekeepers and has provided “some equipment” to countries battling Boko Haram.
“We have already been working with them and providing information,” Linda Thomas-Greenfield, U.S. assistant secretary in the Bureau of African Affairs, said Monday at a news briefing at the African Union Summit. “We are providing some training and support and we’d love to work with the new administration to see how we might increase the level of support to Nigeria."
“We are also providing some equipment and support, and we have a number of meetings with the countries who are members of the Multinational Joint Task Force to look at other areas we might support,” Thomas-Greenfield added.
At least 13,000 people have been killed and more than 1.5 million have been displaced in Nigeria in the six years since Boko Haram launched its campaign to create an Islamic state. The militant group also has expanded its campaign to several other African countries.
On Monday, Boko Haram militants were accused of carrying out a double, simultaneous suicide bombing in the capital of Chad, killing at least 27 people and at least 100 others.
Boko Haram long has been a supporter of the Islamic State group and was officially accepted by the group that controls large areas of Iraq and Syria in March. The group also known as ISIS called on foreign fighters to make their way to Nigeria and join Boko Haram. Many of these fighters are likely to come from neighboring countries and from countries in North Africa.
“While I would not say Africa is under siege, Africa has some major security challenges that require a very strong and very concerted strategic effort by African countries and partners to address the security concerns,” Thomas-Greenfield said.