UN ready to shore up regional force fighting Boko Haram

United Nations (United States) (AFP) - UN Security Council diplomats are drafting a resolution to shore up a regional force fighting Boko Haram with financial backing and logistical support needed for the mission to succeed, according to a text obtained by AFP.

Under the measure, the Security Council would also consider sanctions against financiers and other supporters of the Nigerian Islamist group, which last week pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group.

According to the draft, the 15-member council would endorse the decision to establish the regional force whose one-year mandate will be to "create a safe and secure environment in the areas affected by the activities of Boko Haram."

Secretary General Ban Ki-moon would be tasked with setting up a trust fund to receive contributions from member-states to help the five-nation force of up to 10,000 troops, but no figure on the financing is included in the text.

The force now stands at 8,700, with Nigeria contributing 3,250 troops, Chad 3,000, Cameroun 950, Benin 750 and Niger 750.

The draft resolution welcomes plans for a donors' conference to be held next month to unlock financing for the offensive, organized by the African Union with UN support.

The measure urges countries to share intelligence and provide personnel, equipment and services "for the successful deployment of the MNJTF," the Multinational Joint Task Force.

The text is being drafted under chapter 7 of the UN charter, which means it can be enforced by sanctions and possibly military action.

Recalling that Boko Haram has been listed as a terror group, the council urges governments to submit names of individuals and groups "who are financing, arming, planning or recruiting for Boko Haram" to a sanctions committee.

The text drafted by Chad, Nigeria and Angola, the Security Council's African members, is being discussed with Britain, France and the United States.

Diplomats said a formal draft resolution could be presented to the 15 members of the council next week, with a vote expected before the end of the month.

- Nigeria on board -

Discussions on UN support for the Boko Haram force have been slow-going, with diplomats pointing to strong resistance from Nigeria, which has bristled at criticism of its failure to confront the insurgents as it heads for elections on March 28.

"When it comes to Nigeria, we have been walking on eggshells," said a Security Council diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Last month, UN envoy for West Africa Mohammed ibn Chambas called on Nigeria to "demonstrate greater resolve" in confronting "a serious enemy, Boko Haram."

Nigeria's security chief Ayodele Oke on Wednesday voiced optimism about re-taking four local government areas controlled by Boko Haram in the coming weeks.

The seven-year conflict with Boko Haram has killed more than 13,000 people since 2009, and displaced more than 1.5 million people in Nigeria.

International alarm has grown since the Islamic extremists snatched 276 girls from the northeastern town of Chibok in April last year and expanded their violent campaign to neighboring countries.

The draft resolution describes Boko Haram as "one of the most serious threats to international peace and security," echoing a statement in January that was the council's first on the overall threat posed by the group.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting