Nigeria and the recent terrorist attacks: Speech on behalf of HR/VP Borrell at the plenary session of the European Parliament on cases of breaches of human rights, democracy and the rule of law

Strasbourg, 16 January 2020, 16/01/2020 - 16:43, UNIQUE ID: 200116_11
HR/VP speeches

Delivered by Commissioner Janez Lenarčič on behalf of High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell


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Mr President, Honourable Members of the European Parliament,


Since last year, the human rights and humanitarian situation in Nigeria has significantly deteriorated. Over the past year, terrorist attacks and armed conflict have continued to claim thousands of lives. I want to express our condolences to the families of the victims, and our solidarity with the people of Nigeria, and in particular with the communities that have been so deeply affected by the insurgency of non-state armed groups, especially in the North-East of the country.

The Boko Haram insurgency has killed more than 36.000 people in Nigeria alone since 2009. An additional challenge is the growing humanitarian crisis – more than 2 million people are estimated to be internally displaced, more than 7 million are in need of humanitarian assistance, and more than 1 million are estimated to be out of humanitarian reach.

The EU is following this situation very closely. We have promoted an integrated multi-sectoral human rights oriented approach that focuses on peace building, conflict prevention, humanitarian assistance and social and economic development at community level. The EU continues to stand ready to assist Nigeria in responding to its security, humanitarian and development crisis, in particular around Lake Chad, but also in the North-West, Middle Belt, Niger Delta and elsewhere. In all these cases, a comprehensive approach that addresses root causes is necessary, in our view.

The EU is one of the leading contributors of humanitarian aid in Nigeria, providing immediate assistance to cover the basic needs of the most vulnerable internally displaced people and host communities. Since 2014, the EU has allocated almost €245 million to help people in need in Nigeria and in 2019, we provided more than €28million in humanitarian assistance. The EU also aims to build long-term resilience through its development assistance, which addresses the underlying causes of violent conflict, as well as support to basic services and rebuilding livelihoods. Total EU support to the country under the European Development Fund amounts to well over half a billion euro for the period 2014-2019.

Alongside these efforts, we are strongly committed to the fight against radicalisation and violent extremism. We continue to work on strengthening the military’s civilian protection policies and practices, demobilization, disassociation, reintegration, and reconciliation efforts, and in delivering improvements to Nigeria's criminal justice system.

Next week I will travel to Nigeria, including to the North-East, to convey a clear signal of the EU’s commitment at the highest political level.

Indeed, we are deeply concerned about the issue of shrinking humanitarian access in the North East and the breaches of international humanitarian law. Continued dialogue with the authorities therefore constitutes a key priority for me.

Furthermore, the next session of the EU-Nigeria Human Rights Dialogue will be held on 18 February 2020 and this indicates again our strong commitment to defending human rights in Nigeria through ongoing dialogue and programmes.

Thank you.


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