Daily Archives: October 6, 2015

Daily Press Briefings : Daily Press Briefing – October 6, 2015

2:08 p.m. EDT

MR TONER: Good afternoon, everyone. I don’t know, it’s very loud in here. (Laughter.) We have a rowdy bunch today. Welcome to the State Department. Happy Tuesday.

Just a couple of things briefly at the top: First, on Ukraine, the United States welcomes reports that Russia-backed separatists postponed another round of illegal elections in eastern Ukraine. People living in the separatist-controlled areas deserve to pick their local officials in elections that meet international standards, are compliant with Ukrainian law, and monitored by the OSCE as called for in the Minsk agreements.

We also note OSCE reports that Ukraine, Russia, and the separatists have begun to withdraw additional heavy weaponry – weapons, rather, from the line of contact in eastern Ukraine, as they agreed by – as agreed by the trilateral contact group of Russia, Ukraine, and the OSCE. This will further support the ceasefire and withdrawal of heavy weapons and fighters from Ukraine as stipulated in the Minsk agreements. Much work clearly remains, but it is – and it is crucial that the OSCE be granted full access, including at the international border.

I also want to note that tomorrow, on October 7th, Secretary Kerry is going to host the president of the Federal Republic of Germany, Joachim Gauck, at a ceremony to celebrate the arrival of a segment of the Berlin Wall that will be displayed in the U.S. Diplomacy Center – which is currently under construction – painted with depictions of the 1988-89 Peaceful Revolution protests. This unique segment of the wall features the signatures of the three “fathers of German unity” – that’s former President George W.H – H.W. Bush, rather – former Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev, and German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, and 24 other diplomats, statesmen, and activists who played key roles in ending the Cold War and solidifying the transatlantic relationship.

And with that, Matt, any —

QUESTION: When and where is that?

MR TONER: I’m sorry. It’s tomorrow, October 7th, and —

QUESTION: All day or is there an hour attached to it?

MR TONER: (Laughter.) You’ve already stumped me, Matt.

QUESTION: And is it here?

MR TONER: Yeah, we’ll put out a media note on it.

QUESTION: Here in this building?

MR TONER: Yes, it is. It’s over – it’s going to be over at the unfinished diplomacy center, but I’m sure there’ll be some way to cover it in that building. It’s going to actually be a part of that display in the —

QUESTION: All right.

MR TONER: — in the diplomacy center, which is happening over – it’s that area of construction over there.

QUESTION: On 23rd Street – 1st Street?

MR TONER: Twenty – where am I? I’m turned around. Yes, you’re right.

QUESTION: It’s in this compound, all right.

MR TONER: In this building, correct, and I’ll get a time for you.

QUESTION: All right.

MR TONER: Fair enough.

QUESTION: Is the actual segment of the wall going – you said the center is still under construction, so is the —

MR TONER: Right. My understanding is that yes, it’s the actual —

QUESTION: Okay.

MR TONER: — the arrival of a segment of the Berlin Wall.

QUESTION: Okay.

MR TONER: So I think they’re going to – now, I could be totally wrong, but I think they’re actually going to put it in the building, so —

QUESTION: Okay.

MR TONER: I’ll go out on a limb on that one. Please go ahead, Matt.

QUESTION: I just want to begin on Afghanistan —

MR TONER: Yeah, sure. Sure thing.

QUESTION: — given what was said up on the Hill this morning by the commander in Afghanistan and our exchange yesterday. I just wanted to give you the chance, the opportunity if you had one, to expand on your answers to me yesterday if you have anything to say, or if you want to stand pat where you were yesterday.

MR TONER: In terms of the investigation?

QUESTION: Well, no —

MR TONER: In terms of —

QUESTION: Well, in terms of – in terms of before and —

MR TONER: Sure.

QUESTION: In terms of the comparison or – not – “comparison” is not the right word, but in terms of the idea that a somewhat similar incident of a nonmilitary target or a humanitarian target being struck by a military that you guys, before an investigation was completed, called it appalling and disgraceful. And yet in this case, you’re not prepared to say the same thing.

MR TONER: I think I am right where I was last – yesterday, which is that there’s several investigations underway. Let’s wait and see the conclusion of those investigations before we reach any determination, but obviously recognizing that this was a terrible tragedy.

QUESTION: Right. Well, I mean, in retrospect, does it make – do you think that it would make sense to wait until investigations are completed before making definitive statements about “disgraceful and appalling” or no?

MR TONER: Point taken.

QUESTION: Okay.

QUESTION: Or to even issue an apology. I mean, one of the things that I noticed in watching General Campbell, who Matt references, it just seems sort of terse and unapologetic. And you’re hanging it on these investigations, but I mean, the fact is the hospital was bombed. I mean, doesn’t that warrant sort of an outward apology and – yeah, we’ll figure out the facts later, but I mean, the facts are pretty indisputable at this point.

MR TONER: Again, having – and you know this better than I do, but there is the expression “fog of war,” and until we actually determine what happened and where, to whom and how that unrolled – the events unrolled and took place. I don’t want to make any pronouncements and certainly not my place to do so, but I think we all need to wait for the conclusions of this investigation. That said, in response to the first part of your question, I think U.S. officials have been pretty forthcoming in offering their condolences, clearly saying that this was a tragic accident, reaching out to, in fact, Medecins Sans Frontieres – I know Department of Defense officials did so, I know others did – to express their condolences, so —

QUESTION: An apology is —

MR TONER: Again, we’re looking at this incident —

QUESTION: But your leading opening – the option to say this was the right thing to do, you’re leaving open the possibility that this was, in fact, what was intended to be done.

MR TONER: I don’t think so. I think what we’re saying is an incident took place on Friday night that resulted in the deaths of civilians. Obviously, nobody, as I said yesterday, takes greater care, frankly, to avoid civilian casualties than the United States military. And also I don’t think any other country or military in the world goes to such great pains to investigate its actions and events that may cause and result in civilian casualties. The Secretary of Defense has called for a full, transparent investigation. That’s what we expect; we expect it to be quick and to get us the answers that everyone, frankly, is seeking, and then we’ll respond accordingly.

QUESTION: You mentioned the phrase “fog of war.” Would you agree that that applies equal to every – to all militaries or all combatants in situations – there are circumstances in which case fog of war is a real thing?

MR TONER: I mean, again, never having been in combat, yes —

QUESTION: It’s not just a U.S. – it’s not just a U.S. military problem or issue.

MR TONER: Yes, it is a – it is a —

QUESTION: It is a issue for all militaries.

MR TONER: No, it is a phenomenon that often happens, yes; I agree.

QUESTION: All right. Yesterday when you were asked about the investigation part of this or at least the independent investigation part of this, you said that you were pretty sure that the U.S. would oppose an attempt to refer this incident to the ICC. Is that —

MR TONER: I’ve actually not gotten any firmer response to you on – I’m pretty sure.

QUESTION: Okay, but it still – okay, but I think —

MR TONER: But I mean, I guess what my response would be is we’re investigating this. We’re going to own this however it turns out, whoever is at fault. We don’t think it needs to be referred to the ICC.

QUESTION: Okay. Your colleague at your – you don’t think it needs to be referred?

MR TONER: No. I – yeah.

QUESTION: Your colleague at the White House said the people would be held accountable if there is a need to hold people accountable. I mean, is it really still an open question that someone needs to be held accountable for this?

MR TONER: Again, I think what we’re talking – we just don’t have all the facts yet, so you’re asking me to respond to hypotheticals, and as we know, that’s always a difficult thing.

Yeah.

QUESTION: Okay. But I mean, it’s not so hypothetical now that – because the commander has testified before Congress —

MR TONER: Absolutely. No, I mean —

QUESTION: — that this was done entirely within the chain of command of the United States, so —

MR TONER: Right.

QUESTION: — I mean, that’s not a hypothetical anymore.

MR TONER: No, but I’m saying in terms of – what I’m trying to convey here is we need all the answers and need to know what, where – if mistakes were made, where they were made, who should be held accountable. I don’t want to pronounce on anything before we have that kind of thorough information.

QUESTION: Well, except that I don’t think it’s a question anymore if mistakes were made. He said it was a mistake.

QUESTION: Right, but there’s a separate question of whether mistakes are actionable or prosecutable or deserving of —

MR TONER: Exactly, thank you. I mean, thank you. That’s exactly a valid point.

QUESTION: Okay. And then my last one – it’s just the same question I asked yesterday about whether there’s been State Department involvement and contact with the Afghans or MSF or —

MR TONER: There has been, obviously, between our embassy and the Afghan Government. Not higher than that is my understanding.

QUESTION: Not higher than the embassy?

MR TONER: I’m not sure about – our bureau, certainly. I don’t believe the Secretary’s actually reached out.

QUESTION: Has the U.S. offered sort of any financial compensation to the family’s victims, which can often precede an investigation?

MR TONER: Again, not that I’m aware of. I’m not sure that’s under consideration, but – aware of previous instances, but not in this case.

QUESTION: Different topic?

MR TONER: Sure, go ahead.

QUESTION: Georgia. I was wondering if you have any reaction about the latest developments in Georgia. It looks like government is openly attacking the largest private TV station, Rustavi 2, which assets and properties were frozen by court. There are clear evidences that government involved in that case. Thank you.

MR TONER: Sure. Well, I can say that we’re closely following the developments that you mentioned. I think we urge that any legal proceedings involving a media outlet, regardless of where but certainly in Georgia, be conducted at the highest standards of judicial due process and with respect for freedom of expression.

More broadly, over the past several years, the United States Government and the international community have praised Georgia’s free and pluralistic media environment which has been recognized internationally as a model for the region. So actions that give the appearance of constricting that environment, constricting media freedoms or compromising that media pluralism, are, frankly, disturbing, and especially in the lead-up to parliamentary elections. So we therefore, we do take it seriously and we’re watching it.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: Do you regard this incident as disturbing?

MR TONER: Yes.

QUESTION: Thanks.

MR TONER: I said actions that give – and I – we would – that’s yes. I would equate the two.

Please.

QUESTION: On Turkey and Russia and Syria, actually, altogether.

MR TONER: (Laughter.) The whole region.

QUESTION: The whole region. It seems like there are new incursions right now to Turkish airspace. Incirlik was reported – one happened 3rd of October and it seems like there is, after Russians said this won’t happen again, apparently, October 5th there was another incursion by the Syrian Air Force. It seems like the tension is escalating. What’s your view on Russian – whole Russian-Turkish – and that whole situation right now?

MR TONER: Well, so so far you said “incursions.” I’m aware of one and then possibly a second incursion that I’m aware of. I don’t know if there’s been additional ones. Clearly, we spoke to this a little bit yesterday. It is concerning. This kind of behavior, intentional or un-intentional, is very risky. It puts lives at risk. And these kinds of actions are dangerous, provocative, and they can cause accidents and miscalculation. So we need to, again, follow up on these efforts to de-conflict, but certainly we would call on Russia to avoid any more incursions, any additional incursions, into Turkey’s airspace.

QUESTION: Have you had the chance to talk to Russians directly on these specific breaches?

MR TONER: I believe we have raised this incident directly with the Russian Government. I’ll check on that, but I think that’s the case.

QUESTION: Today, Turkish President Erdogan in Brussels, I believe, stated that the attack on Turkey means attack on NATO, and he was also telling Russians that they may lose Turkey. When you look it from the NATO perspective as a ally of Turkey, what would be the implication, possible implications of this Russians’ aggressive moves in Turkish border?

MR TONER: Well, I mean, we always look at Turkey through the perspective – I mean, obviously Turkey is a close ally and friend and partner. But we always look at it through the lens, and especially in security matters, of NATO. There were consultations. There was a NAC yesterday in Brussels to discuss these incursions. We take it very seriously, as does NATO, as do all NATO allies, and we’ll be watching it closely. And again, it’s why we’ve conveyed to Russia that these types of incursions need to stop.

Go ahead.

QUESTION: Speaking about de-confliction, are you —

MR TONER: Yeah.

QUESTION: Are you aware of upcoming talks between the U.S. and Russia? The Russians have been saying, had said this morning that they have offered informal talks with the U.S. military.

MR TONER: I’ve seen those comments. And I don’t know if you’ve seen comments, but – from the Department of Defense, but they commented earlier today that they stand ready to meet again as soon as possible with Russia, but we just haven’t had that follow-up yet. So we’re certainly ready and prepared. I think we’ve seen over the last couple of days the danger that exists on the ground of accidents, of accident incursions, whatever you want to call them. So we need to absolutely engage with Russia on de-conflicting.

QUESTION: About the —

QUESTION: The danger? What – the dangers of accidents? I mean, there has not been any real fallout.

MR TONER: No, but I mean, the fact that they went into Turkish airspaces.

QUESTION: You’re – but you’re – right. But you’re not aware of any actual —

MR TONER: Not yet, no.

QUESTION: — conflict?

QUESTION: Is it safe to say that they appear unwilling at this point to talk or —

MR TONER: I’m not sure. There was an initial round of conversations last week. Obviously, this is run out of the Department of Defense, so I would refer you to them. But —

QUESTION: Right.

MR TONER: But we did see comments out of the Department of Defense earlier today that they stand ready to have these follow-up conversations, they just haven’t —

QUESTION: Well, not that they stand ready. That they’re asking to —

MR TONER: That they’re welcome —

QUESTION: — to talk —

MR TONER: Exactly, yes.

QUESTION: — and they’re being ignored, right?

MR TONER: I don’t know – I wouldn’t – that’s something for the Russians to answer.

Please.

QUESTION: A follow-up, Mark.

MR TONER: Yeah.

QUESTION: There was another media conference today between DOD and their Russian counterpart, I assume, between (inaudible) and his – or counterparts.

MR TONER: Not that I’m aware of, no.

QUESTION: So it’s a planned videoconference or —

MR TONER: I’m sorry, I can’t hear you.

QUESTION: If there will be another video conference to discuss —

MR TONER: There was one last week, but there hasn’t been a follow-up.

QUESTION: Yeah, but there was – the first one was last week, and the follow-up?

MR TONER: There hasn’t been one. I said that’s – the Department of Defense stands ready; the Pentagon stands ready to have an – have additional follow-ups to that.

QUESTION: So U.S. is doing this video conference representing whole coalition, or by yourself only?

MR TONER: It’s a fair question. I think by ourselves, but also as a member of the coalition as well, de-conflicting airstrikes on the ground. We’re obviously the – one of the primary movers or actors in that, but we do that – we do so in consultation with all of our coalition partners.

QUESTION: So will you discuss also, for example, this Turkey and Russian escalation in this video conference as well?

MR TONER: Again, this is at a very practical level. In that kind of practical sense, the danger that such incursions present to Turkey might be raised. I can’t promise that. I’d have to really refer you to the Department of Defense on that. But these are very, very in the weeds kind of practical discussions about who’s flying where when so that we can avoid any tragic mistakes or accidents.

QUESTION: So in which platform – on which platform Russia and Turkey should solve this problem, you think? I mean, through this, for example, mechanism, or through NATO-Russian dialogue or through another mechanism, maybe bilateral relations? Which is the best way to solve this conflict —

MR TONER: Sure. Well, I certainly can’t speak for Turkey. Obviously – again, I can’t speak for what the Department of Defense, what the Pentagon is raising in these – well, they’ve only had one so far, but these video conferences, these calls, these de-confliction calls. So it’s hard for me to say that this would be the proper venue for them, but the idea behind these calls, idea behind this mechanism, is to do exactly that, is to avoid mistakes – whatever you want to call them – or intentional incursions, but just to make sure that we’re clear on who’s flying where when so that we can avoid accidents.

That may be one possible platform to do that in. I’m not discounting it. There may be a bilateral platform for Turkey to pursue with Russia as well.

QUESTION: So Turkey may be represented in the next phone call —

MR TONER: I just can’t promise that. I don’t know.

QUESTION: You think the incursions are intentional?

MR TONER: Again, we’ve – Russia has called them an accident. We don’t have – I mean, we’re not sure.

QUESTION: Are you still thinking to withdraw Patriots from Turkey in light of these new incursions?

MR TONER: I don’t have anything new for that – for you on that.

Please, Pam.

QUESTION: The Russian speaker of parliament has said that Russia would be willing to consider expanding airstrikes into Iraq. Has there been any diplomatic expressions of concern to Iraq about this possible expansion?

MR TONER: I mean, we’re always in conversations with Iraq about the security situation. What I can say is that Iraq certainly hasn’t asked for Russian airstrikes in its territory, so it’s kind of a moot point at this point. But I mean, we always are having conversations about the security situation within Iraq. That it came up in that framework, I don’t know.

QUESTION: Would the U.S. consider this move from Russia destabilizing?

MR TONER: Again, I don’t want to speak to hypotheticals. What we have said generally is that we would see a constructive role in Syria or against ISIL in Syria on the part of Russia, if they actually hit ISIL targets. To a large extent, we’ve not seen that thus far, so we feel like they’ve only ratcheted up the tension and the conflict so far with their airstrikes against moderate opposition forces. We don’t want to see that same formula certainly transferred to Iraq.

We’ve been pretty consistent about this. Where we want to see pressure applied is on ISIL, on I-S-I-L. That needs to be consistent. It needs – everybody needs to do more in that respect. We’re part of a 60-odd-member coalition doing exactly that, supporting these groups in northern Syria. If Russia wants to play in that sphere, again, we could see a role for it there. But we’ve not seen that thus far, and similarly in Iraq.

QUESTION: On Iraq?

MR TONER: Please, yes sir.

QUESTION: Yeah. There is a press report saying that the U.S. Government stopped its intelligence cooperation with the Iraqi military on al-Anbar in Iraq because after the Iraqi Government is coordinating security issues with the Russians in Syria. Is there any —

MR TONER: I’m sorry, where did you cite that report from? I didn’t hear the first part of it, sorry.

QUESTION: It’s a press report in the Al-Hayat newspaper, Arabic?

MR TONER: No, I don’t have anything for you on that. Sorry.

Please.

QUESTION: On Syria. Russian foreign minister has considered the FSA in Syria as an illusion. And he said that the Russians asked the U.S. to provide them with their positions, with FSA positions in Syria. What’s your comment, and will you be able to provide them these positions?

MR TONER: Well, I’m aware of Foreign Minister Lavrov’s comments. I would just say we continue to convey to Russia our deep concern about any Russian actions taken against moderate Syrian elements. These kinds of actions only risk, frankly, exacerbating the current situation, raising tensions in the conflict, and, frankly, radicalizing some of these moderate elements that we seek to support, and ultimately push any political transition further away. And it draws Russia further into a sectarian conflict. So all of these do not help us get to what we all at least profess to want to – the place where we want to get to, which is a peaceful political transition to a transitional government according to the Geneva communique.

We continue to talk to the Russians. I’m not aware of any recent phone calls between the Secretary and Lavrov, but we – there were multiple meetings last week to try to find a political way forward, a political path forward, and we continue to pursue those efforts.

QUESTION: And what about his statement that there is no FSA in Syria?

MR TONER: We disagree with that. I mean, we’ve been working with – I mean, the Free Syrian Army is – contains many moderate armed opposition forces throughout Syria. And these moderate armed opposition groups were initially formed to defend local governments – local communities, rather, from Assad’s brutal crackdown on civilians and peaceful protests. This was over four years ago. So the armed opposition, the moderate opposition, part of this rose up against that. So they do exist. I mean, it’s – we would reject that characterization.

QUESTION: May I ask – on Syria?

MR TONER: Please, in the back. Yeah.

QUESTION: Thank you very much. So yesterday, you said, “We’ve seen no indication that they’re” – they, meaning the Russians – are “actually hitting ISIL targets.” One of the cities that Russia has targeted is Raqqa. Would you say that Raqqa is ISIL-free?

MR TONER: No. And in fact, I said – I think I said the preponderance of targets that they’ve hit —

QUESTION: Okay, let’s look at other cities. I heard that. What about Idlib? Is it ISIL-free? That’s another city that Russia has targeted.

MR TONER: Okay. Catch your breath. So what we’ve seen in the initial airstrikes that Russia carried out beginning last week were primarily targeting places where ISIL wasn’t ensconced, didn’t exist, didn’t have a presence – and frankly, it was where moderate Syrian opposition forces are generally located. So we were very clear, and we’ve been clear in our public comments as well as our private conveyances to the Russian Government – and I’ve said this multiple times; in fact, some of you are probably sick of hearing me say it: Russia can play a constructive role in this effort, but that doesn’t mean hitting moderate Syrian forces that are in opposition to Assad, who has carried out a brutal, brutal crackdown on his own people. And in fact, as I’ve said before, that so many people are probably tired of hearing me say it, he has killed more Syrian civilians than ISIL has, and believe me, that’s an achievement.

QUESTION: Do you know where exactly those moderate Syrian opposition forces are?

MR TONER: Without revealing intelligence sources, we have a pretty good sense of it, yeah.

QUESTION: Can you share that information —

MR TONER: No.

QUESTION: — with Russia?

MR TONER: Oh.

QUESTION: Not with us. (Laughter.)

MR TONER: (Inaudible.) Again, we’ve been – we’ve had frank exchanges with Russia about all of these factors. And we’ll continue to discuss those with Russia.

QUESTION: Are – will you give their locations in order for them not to target them?

MR TONER: We’re confident that Russia knows what’s happening on the ground there.

QUESTION: What is – one more thing.

MR TONER: Yeah, sure thing. Please.

QUESTION: What sounds strange is that a month ago, the U.S. couldn’t find enough adequate moderate opposition forces to train and equip. And after the Russian airstrikes, all of a sudden we hear that there are so many of them, that we hear about the Free Syrian Army. We haven’t heard the words “Free Syrian Army” for months, and all of a sudden, they’re back. Why couldn’t you find them before?

MR TONER: That’s a mischaracterization. So we’re talking about, rather, two separate entities. The Free Syrian Army is a group of moderate Syrian opposition forces in combat with the Syrian regime, with Assad’s army, with Assad’s military. What we were trying to – our train and equip program in northern Syria where ISIL is ensconced was to try to find moderate elements in that area and train them up, give them the tools, the equipment they need. I think we’ve been very candid. It hasn’t panned out very well, but it’s a different element and we’re actually looking at that program and seeing how we can basically reinvigorate it, do it better.

But as we’ve also been clear, that train and equip program was only one small part of a much larger effort, which was providing air support and supplies and other support for those groups in northern Syria – Syrian Kurds, Syrian Arabs, Syrian Turkmen – who had been fighting pretty effectively against ISIL.

Yeah, go ahead.

QUESTION: Change of subject?

MR TONER: Yep.

QUESTION: Mark, as far as the U.S.-Indian relations are concerned, so much has happened in the last few weeks, or last month. Prime Minister Modi was in Silicon Valley, and of course, there’s U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue here at the State Department, and then, of course, all the leaders were at the United Nations, including Prime Minister Modi and President Obama, and of course, Secretary Kerry. There were two messages between the two largest democracies – or oldest or largest democracy, U.S. and India, one: Moving forward, U.S.-India relations as far as commerce and trade and defense and political and social and all kinds of things. But other side – there was another side of the two relations that where President Obama, including Secretary Kerry joint statement and Prime Minister Modi spoke about the terrorism against India, and including the Prime Minister Modi was talking very clearly to the businesses and Indian American community in the Silicon Valley that terrorism is terrorism. There’s no definition of terrorism good or bad. It’s all terrorism. And he was, of course, pointing out same thing at the United Nations and the joint statement here at the State Department that it must be stopped against India from the cloth bottom. Of course, he was pointing about Pakistan.

MR TONER: Sure.

QUESTION: But he said the conflict is not the message or conflict is not the solution. But it must stop. So where do we go from here, as far as the relations between two countries?

And finally, yesterday also at the George Washington University Sigur International Center, the CEOs were there from India and America. They were talking about the same thing moving forward with the relations.

MR TONER: Sure.

QUESTION: Thanks.

MR TONER: You’re talking about where we go in terms of terrorism. Well, obviously, it’s a shared concern not just between our country and India, rather. But obviously, for many countries in that region – President Obama’s stated – the Mumbai perpetrators financiers, sponsors must be held accountable for their crimes. We continue to follow the criminal proceedings closely and urge additional action to prevent such an attack from ever happening again and recognize that this was a terrible tragedy for India.

In general, we want to see better, stronger, closer counterterrorism cooperation not only between the U.S. and India but of all the countries in the region, including Pakistan. We all need to be on our guard. We all need to be vigilant. We all need to cooperate and share information and intelligence where we can do that in order to prevent future attacks. It’s not something we can let our guard down on.

QUESTION: And one more finally.

MR TONER: Sure.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

QUESTION: In the last many years, I have met many prime ministers and presidents —

MR TONER: Yes.

QUESTION: — of course, from different countries, including from India and Pakistan. This time at the United Nations the problem was that India only was talking about 60 years forward, moving forward.

MR TONER: Right.

QUESTION: But Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was talking 60 years backward – backward. And it was also questioning the Pakistani press where he was criticized that why do you – why are you in the U.S. year after year after year and talking only about 60 years back. Let’s move forward like India is moving.

MR TONER: Sure.

QUESTION: So where are we talking – where are we on these issues of moving forward and not going backward?

MR TONER: I’d just say we share your concern about the India-Pakistan relationship. It’s absolutely critical to achieving peace and stability in South Asia. Our relationship with India is strong, growing. As you said, we’re two of the world’s oldest democracies. As Obama – President Obama said, India has the potential to be one of the great global powers in the 21st century, so we want to see our cooperation deepen both economically, politically, and security – on security issues as well.

QUESTION: Thank you, sir.

MR TONER: Yeah. Please, sir.

QUESTION: I want to go back to Afghanistan for one second —

MR TONER: Yes, no worries.

QUESTION: — and then on to a different subject. Just on Kunduz, do you know if the – anyone in the State Department’s legal office or anything has been asked by the Pentagon to be involved, to play any role in the investigation into what happened?

MR TONER: No, but I can check on that.

QUESTION: And then the other thing is – on that is I just wonder if anyone in this building has noted the irony of the 1999 winner of the Nobel Peace Prize accusing the army commanded by the 2009 winner of the Nobel Peace Prize of war crimes.

MR TONER: I’m not sure what to do with that.

QUESTION: I’m just wondering if it has been —

MR TONER: Noted?

QUESTION: If people have noted the irony of that. No? You don’t know?

MR TONER: I have not myself noted it, no.

QUESTION: All right. And then I wanted to go on to Israel.

MR TONER: Yes sir.

QUESTION: There are a flurry of reports there that said that your policy regarding settlements has changed or been altered in such a way so that – in that you have delivered some kind of an ultimatum to the Israeli Government that if they make any major announcements, that you will not veto a resolution – a UN resolution that would call – a Security Council resolution that would call them illegal. Is that correct?

MR TONER: I’m aware of those press reports, Matt. That report, I can say, is false. Our position on settlements is well known, hasn’t changed. We convey it regularly to the Israeli Government. And I know we don’t generally comment on private conversations, but I’d like to nip that story in the bud. We haven’t issued any kind of ultimatum on this.

QUESTION: Okay. And – so the position of the Administration remains that settlements are illegitimate. You think they’re unhelpful —

MR TONER: Right.

QUESTION: — and not constructive to whatever is left of the peace process, but also —

MR TONER: Right.

QUESTION: — you will still – or there has not been any kind of a decision made not to veto a resolution that would – a UN resolution on this – on this —

MR TONER: No, and I mean, there’s not even a resolution out there right now. So I mean, I don’t want to speak about something in the abstract.

Please.

QUESTION: Related to that, would you welcome the Israeli announcement of the lifting of the restriction from Muslim worship at al-Aqsa compound? Is it – I mean, does it fit into the return of the status quo you were calling for?

MR TONER: Without knowing all the details, it sounds in keeping with what we’ve been calling for, which is for both sides – all sides, frankly – to find a way to – back to full restoration of the status quo at the Temple Mount, al-Sharif – Haram al-Sharif. That’s – that sounds like a step in the right direction or in that direction.

Oh sure, Michel.

QUESTION: On Iran and Russia, Iran’s defense ministry has announced that Russia is going to deliver the S-300 air defense missile system to Iran under an agreement between the two countries. Are you aware of that, and what’s your comment?

MR TONER: I’m not. We’ve been – I’d have to get an update and see what – where we are with this. I can take the question. I mean, we’ve talked about this delivery system before and our concerns about it, but I’ll see if we have any additional comment on that.

QUESTION: Please, thank you.

MR TONER: Yeah. Sure, Pam.

QUESTION: An Islamic State-affiliated group has claimed responsibility for this attack in Yemen on the resort. Has there been any collaboration since the attack occurred between the U.S. and Saudi officials since then. And —

MR TONER: Sorry. I hit my mike.

QUESTION: And if so, is there consideration of perhaps a change in strategy to address this kind of threat?

MR TONER: Well, we are – and you’re speaking about the attack this morning in Aden. We are aware of reports of these attacks on several locations, including the Al Qasr Hotel, where members of the Yemeni Government are staying. Obviously, we strongly condemn this attack. We understand the Yemeni Government has indicated that no senior government officials were injured or killed in the attack. We have seen various reports of numbers of individuals wounded or killed, and we continue to gather information on that.

You said that ISIL has claimed responsibility. We’ve seen different claims of responsibility, so it’s too early. We can’t confirm who may have been the author of that attack.

I think our solution or our, rather, policy towards Yemen is the same, which is that we believe any solution must be a political solution and that there’s an urgent need to return to the negotiating table. We continue to support the United Nations-led political transition and the UN special envoy, and, I think, underscore – we would underscore the urgency of seeking a durable solution to the crisis through a peaceful political process. We’ve – our support for Saudis has been limited, I think, to logistical and intelligence support. But beyond that, we are very concerned about the growing humanitarian crisis on the ground in Yemen, which is why, as – again, we need this political solution; we need an end to the fighting so we can get that system – or that assistance, rather, to where it’s urgently needed.

Please.

QUESTION: Mark, Turkish Cypriot foreign minister is in town. Will you have any meeting with her, or —

MR TONER: Not that I’m aware of, but I can check on that.

Please.

QUESTION: Mark, one —

MR TONER: Yeah, sure. Yeah.

QUESTION: — quick question on Egypt and Syria. Egypt has supported the Russian airstrikes on Syria. Are you aware of that, and what’s your comment?

MR TONER: I haven’t seen those remarks by Egyptian officials, so I’d have to look at them. I mean, it’s unclear to me whether they’re, again, supporting the idea of Russian airstrikes against ISIL, which we said we would also support that in some fashion, whether – if it could be done in a collaborative manner. But so far we’ve seen mixed reports. We’ve seen attacks on moderate Syrian opposition. So I – just out of context, I don’t know. I can’t speak to that, but —

QUESTION: I just want to go —

QUESTION: Can you take the question, please?

MR TONER: Sure.

QUESTION: I have a brief one on your opening on Ukraine.

MR TONER: Yeah.

QUESTION: On the local elections, you’re not opposed – I just want to make sure I understand this. You’re not opposed to them having the elections in general, are you?

MR TONER: No, they just have to be done – it’s spelled out in the Minsk agreements, but they have to be done compliant with Ukrainian law and then also monitored so it can be free and fair.

QUESTION: And then it was – and it was your position that there was no way that that could happen in the timespan that they were – had originally envisaged?

MR TONER: That’s correct.

QUESTION: Just —

MR TONER: Please.

QUESTION: Going back to your statement where you said, “We’ve seen no indication that they’re actually hitting ISIL targets” – that – there’s so much certainty in that statement. How do you know that?

MR TONER: Well, again, I was just frankly echoing what our military colleagues have said. And I have no doubt that they have a very clear perspective on what’s being hit and what’s not being hit in terms of northern Syria and in the areas where these Russian air attacks are taking place.

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

MR TONER: Refrain, Matt. Please.

QUESTION: Do they present evidence to what they’re saying?

MR TONER: What’s that?

QUESTION: Do they present evidence? Have you heard them – can you give us —

MR TONER: No. I think that we’ve – we were concerned from the outset that these airstrikes are being carried out against moderate Syrian opposition – the very opposition that we’ve been supporting, who have been waging now a four-year valiant fight against Assad. And again, let’s widen the lens here. Let’s get back to where we find agreement with Russia on several areas when it comes to Syria. We agree ISIL needs to be defeated, needs to be destroyed; it’s a threat to the region, it’s a threat to Russia, it’s a threat to the United States, it’s a threat to the West.

Second, there needs to be a political solution – a political resolution, rather – to the conflict in Syria. And in that regard we have found Russia’s actions thus far in carrying out airstrikes – I don’t know if exclusively they’ve hit moderate Syrian opposition, but certainly a good number of them have struck moderate opposition forces. And we find that is counterproductive to where – to our ultimate end goal here, or end state, which is a political process according to the Geneva communique.

Is that it, guys?

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR TONER: Thank you.

(The briefing was concluded at 2:41 p.m.)

DPB #164

Motion for a resolution on the mass displacement of children in Nigeria as a result of Boko Haram attacks – B8-2015-1024

The European Parliament,

–       having regard to its previous resolutions on Nigeria and in particular that of 29 April 2015

–       having regard to previous statements by the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, including those of 8 January, 19 January, 31 March, and 14 and 15 April, 3 July 2015,

–       having regard to the outcome of the UN counter terrorism summit held in New York from 28 – 30 September 2015

–       having regard to President Muhammadu Buhari’s address to the UN General Assembly of 28 September 2015, and the UN counter terrorism summit.

–       having regard to the Council conclusions of 9 February 2015,

–       having regard to the EU Emergency Trust Fund for stability and addressing root causes of irregular migration and displaced persons in Africa

–       having regard to Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 583/2014 of 28 May 2014(1), which added Boko Haram to the list of persons, groups and entities covered by the freezing of funds and economic resources,

–       having regard to the conclusions of the EU and European Parliament election observation missions,

–       having regard to the statements made by the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, on the continuing violence and deteriorating security situation in north‑eastern Nigeria of 22 May 2015

–       having regard to the statements by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on the possibility that members of Boko Haram could be accused of war crimes,

–       having regard to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child

–       having regard to the UN Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief of 1981,

–       having regard to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights of 1981, ratified by Nigeria on 22 June 1983,

–       having regard to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 1966, ratified by Nigeria on 29 October 1993,

–       having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948,

–       having regard to the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, adopted on 29 May 1999, and in particular the provisions of Chapter IV thereof,

–       having regard to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the optional protocol thereto,

–       having regard to the Partnership Agreement between the members of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States, of the one part, and the European Community and its Member States, of the other part (the Cotonou Agreement),

–       having regard to Article 208 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, which establishes taking into account the principle of policy coherence for development in all EU external policies,

–       having regard to the EU Children of Peace initiative

–       having regard to Rule 123(2) and (4) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  Whereas increasing attacks by the terror group Boko Haram in Nigeria continue to threaten peace, stability and the livelihood of millions of people throughout the entire region resulting in more than 22 000 deaths since 2009, indiscriminately targeting civilians who do not adhere to their extreme beliefs.

B.  Whereas the UN estimates that the violence in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states has recently seen a dramatic increase in internally displaced people to almost 2 million, while more than 3 million people have been affected by the insurgency as a whole, and 5.5 million are in need of humanitarian assistance in the lake Chad Basin.

C.  Whereas the latest spate of attacks has uprooted 500,000 children, bringing the total number of displaced children in north east Nigeria and neighbouring Chad and Niger, to 1.4 million according to UNICEF figures, ripping families apart and causing immense suffering.

D.  Whereas half of the displaced children are estimated to be under 5 years old, with many being forcibly recruited to the ranks of Boko Haram, exploited to sexual violence and many of those in IDP camps being exposed to outbreaks of cholera which have been reported throughout the region.

E.  Whereas the unsustainable displacement of the effected children is having an extremely detrimental effect on their long term well being, with a lack of nutrition, access to education and psychological trauma posing a threat to an entire generation throughout the region.

F.  Whereas in April 2014 more than 270 girls were kidnapped from a government school in Chibok (Borno state); whereas the majority remain missing and are at serious risk of sexual violence, enslavement and forced marriage; whereas since then hundreds more people have been abducted by Boko Haram; whereas on 28 April 2015 almost 300 girls and women were rescued in Sambisa Forest;

G.  Whereas on 2 October 2015, Abuja experienced its first bombings in 16 months when two explosions, one of which a suicide bombing, rocked the Nyanya and Kuje suburbs, killing at least 18 and injuring 40; whereas on 3 October, around ten people were reported to have died in multiple blasts in the Kayamla and Dalori areas of Maiduguri.

H.  Whereas around 150 people were murdered in north eastern Borneo state on 3 July 2015 on an attack targeting Muslim worshippers during Ramadan adding to the attacks carried out by Boko Haram already in 2015, which have shown an alarming rise in the use of women and children to carry out such attacks.

I.  Whereas despite commitments from the international community, UNICEF has received only 32 per cent of the USD 50.3 million required for its humanitarian operations across the Lake Chad region for 2015, denying thousands of children access to basic health care.

J. Whereas on 18 June 2015 Commissioner Stylianides announced and additional EUR 12.5 million of the funding to tackle the humanitarian challenges in Nigeria, and EUR 8.5 million to supporting refugees in Niger, Cameroon and Chad, in addition to the EUR 123 million of humanitarian assistance already allocated to the region in 2015

K.  Whereas Nigeria is the biggest economy in the African continent and a major EU trading partner, but whereas despite its vast resources, Nigeria ranks among the most unequal countries in the world, with more than 70 % of its population living on less than USD 1.25 per day and 10 % of the country’s population controlling over 90 % of its wealth and resources;

L.  Whereas the spillover of the Boko Haram insurgency into neighbouring countries highlights the importance of greater regional cooperation and response; whereas more than 300 000 Nigerians have fled to north-western Cameroon and south‑western Niger to escape the violence, and whereas hundreds of Nigerians are risking their lives on the migration routes to the EU in hope of living in better economic, social and security conditions;

M.  Whereas recurrent conflict, erratic weather patterns, epidemics and other shocks continue to worsen security in the region, with farmers no longer able to cultivate their lands or harvest their products for fear of being attacked by Boko Haram, a situation that is further exacerbating food insecurity.

N.  Whereas, recent months have seen an alarming increase in attacks by armed Fulani herdsmen on non-Muslim farming communities in central Nigeria have claimed over 500 lives in five states in central Nigeria, namely in Benue, Nasarawa, Plateau, Taraba States and in the southern part of Kaduna State.

O.  Whereas oil revenues have been steadily decreasing and an economic crisis is looming, and whereas, by some estimates, between USD 3 billion and USD 8 billion in Nigerian oil is stolen annually; whereas decades of economic mismanagement, instability and corruption have hindered investment in Nigeria’s education and social services systems;

P.  Whereas education, literacy, women’s rights, social justice and a fair distribution of state revenues in society through tax systems, reducing inequality, and the fight against corruption and tax evasion are key to fighting fundamentalism, violence and intolerance;

Q.  Whereas the Chadian army, together with Niger and Cameroon, is the main force fighting against Boko Haram, and whereas its full involvement against Boko Haram terrorists in Gamboru Ngala, Malam Fatori and Kangalam in Nigeria is acknowledged; whereas the great price paid by this army in the war against terrorism is recognised; whereas the European Parliament expresses its full solidarity with the wounded and the families of the victims;

1.  Strongly condemns the ongoing, disturbing attacks by Boko Haram in Northern Nigeria which has lead to an increase in the displacement of people including the estimated 500 000 children. Deplores the increasing wave of gun attacks and suicide bombings in the region which Boko Haram has forced women and children to carry out. Extends its condolences to those killed and affected by the latest wave of terrorist attacks, including the most recent of 3 October 2015 in Abuja.

2.  Deplores the acts which have lead to the mass displacement of innocent children and calls for immediate coordinated international assistance to assist the work of UNICEF in preventing the displaced children and youth from being subjected to sexual slavery and other sexual violence, kidnappings and forced armed conflict by the terrorist sect Boko Haram against civilian, government and military targets in Nigeria.

3.  Welcomes the recent announcement by the European Commission of additional funds to boost urgent humanitarian aid to the region. Expresses however serious concern about the funding gap between commitments and actual payments for UNICEF operations in the region by the international community at large. Calls on donors to meet their commitments without delay in order to address the chronic need for access to basic provisions such as drinking water basic health care and education.

4.  Calls on the European Commission to prioritise assistance to assist uprooted children and youth in Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger with particular attention on protection from all forms of violence, access to education, health care and safe drinking water in the framework of the “Emergency Trust Fund for stability and addressing root causes of irregular migration and displaced persons in Africa.”

5.  Highlights the importance in ensuring victims of the violence and the uprooted children receive appropriate treatment, including psychological support and that girls and women who are victims of rape in the context of armed conflict be offered the full range of sexual and reproductive health services, in EU-funded humanitarian facilities, in accordance with common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, which guarantees all necessary medical care required by the condition of the wounded and sick,

6.  Reiterates the need for the Nigerian government and the international community to do everything in their power to seek the safe release of 276 girls abducted from a school outside Chibok, and at least another 2 000 girls and women have been taken.

7.  Underlines the commitment of President Buhari in his address to the 70th session of the UNGA in developing a strategy to put all resources into bringing an end to the violence of Boko Haram re-establish stability and security across the whole country and address the root causes of this terrorism. Urges the international community to do more to help the Nigerian Government fight Boko Haram and address the root causes of terrorism, as only a global response can ensure a permanent end to violence and fundamentalism

8.  Stresses in particular the need for the Nigerian government to take firmer action to fight internal corruption, mismanagement and inefficiencies within the public institutions and the army, which have rendered it incapable of dealing with the scourge of Boko Haram in the north of the country, and to adopt measures to starve Boko Haram of its sources of illegal income through cooperation with neighbouring countries, in particular with regard to smuggling and trafficking; In particular calls on the EU and its Member States to assist

9.  Reiterates its call for the Nigerian authorities to adopt a roadmap for the social and economic development of the northern and southern states in order to address the issues of poverty, inequality, educational opportunities and access to healthcare, promoting fair distribution of oil revenues in the context of decentralisation, which are a cause of spiralling violence; Calls on Nigeria’s religious authorities and leaders to cooperate actively with civil society and public authorities in order to combat extremism and radicalisation;

10.  Welcomes the determination expressed at the Niamey Regional Summit of 20 and 21 January 2015 by the 13 participating countries, in particular the military commitment of Chad, together with Cameroon, Niger and Nigeria, to the fight against the terrorist threats of Boko Haram; encourages a strengthening of this regional response, using all existing tools and in full compliance with international law; calls on ECOWAS, in particular, to continue to make its new Counter-Terrorism Strategy operational, paying particular attention to the containment of cross-border illicit flows of arms, weapons, fighters and contraband; further insists that without such cooperation the violence is likely to continue, undermining peace and stability across the region; points, in this regard, to the pledge of allegiance made by Boko Haram to Islamic State, and to the necessity of impeding any further coordination or cooperation between the two terrorist organisations and the expansion of this threat;

11.  Welcomes the initiatives of the Peace and Security Council of the African Union, and calls on the African Union to engage, as a matter of urgency, in concrete action, together with all the countries involved, to coordinate the fight against terrorist groups in the Sahel region; urges the European Union to support the development of regional mechanisms for conflict management, such as the African Standby Force, as well as the possibility of recourse to the African Peace Facility and EU crisis management tools;

12.  Calls for the EU and its Member States to fulfil their commitment to providing a comprehensive range of political, development and humanitarian support to Nigeria and its people in tackling the Boko Haram threat and ensuring the development of the country; urges the EU to continue political dialogue with Nigeria under Article 8 of the revised Cotonou Agreement, and in that context to address issues relating to universal human rights, including freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief, and non‑discrimination on any grounds, as enshrined in universal, regional and national human rights instruments;

13.  Regrets the delay in action from EU Member States in setting up a credible and holistic European system for managing the migration routes from sub-Saharan Africa to the Middle East and northern Africa, offering sustainable development solutions to countries of origin, such as Nigeria, and to bring an end to the human tragedies taking place on these routes;

14.  Urges the EU to investigate the financing of Boko Haram and to address the transparency of trade in all natural resources, including oil, in order to avoid any fuelling of conflicts by any company; calls on the Nigerian authorities and foreign companies to help strengthen governance in the extractives sector by abiding by the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative and publishing what companies pay to the Nigerian Government;

15.  Notes with concern increasing attacks on non Muslim farming communities in central Nigeria. Calls on the government of Nigeria to increase efforts to address this issue in a manner that is just, equitable, and that does not leave land that has been seized through violent means in the hands of the perpetrators.

16.  Recalls that the Nigerian Government has the right and responsibility to defend its people from terrorism, but insists that such actions must be conducted with respect for human rights and the rule of laws

17.  Calls for thorough investigations into allegations of human rights violations, including extrajudicial killings, torture, arbitrary arrest and extortion-related abuses, and believes that such actions cannot be justified as a means of combating the threat posed by Boko Haram or other terrorist organisations; believes that reforms of Nigeria’s judicial system are urgently needed in order to provide effective criminal justice with a view to combating terrorism, as are reforms of the Nigerian state security forces;

18.  Asks the Nigerian authorities to take emergency measures in the Niger Delta, including actions to end illegal oil-related activities and to help people exposed to pollution; asks the EU and its Member States to provide technical expertise and resources to assist in restoring the area; asks all companies operating in the region to comply with the highest international standards and to refrain from any action that may take a toll on the environment and on the local communities;

19.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Vice‑President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the Government and Parliament of Nigeria, and the representatives of the Economic Community of West African States and the African Union.

Motion for a resolution on the mass displacement of children in Nigeria as a result of Boko Haram attacks – B8-2015-1020

The European Parliament,

 having regard to its previous resolutions on Nigeria, in particular to the one of 30 April 2015,

 having regard to the statement by the President of the Security Council of the UN on 28 July 2015,

 having regard to the Cotonou Agreement,

 having regard to the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security adopted on 31 October 2000,

 having regard to the United Nations (UN) (1990) and Organization of African Unity (OAU) (1990) charter on rights and welfare of the child,

 having regard to the 2003 Child Rights Act signed into law by the federal government of Nigeria,

 having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948,

 having regard to the African Union Convention on the Prevention and fight against terrorism, ratified by Nigeria on 16 May 2003, and the Additional Protocol, ratified by Nigeria on 22 December 2008,

 having regard to Article 135 of the Rules.

A. Whereas Nigeria, the most populous and biggest economy in Africa has become since 2009 the battlefield of Boko Haram Islamic terrorist group who swore allegiance to Daesh; whereas the Nigerian security forces failed to tackle the insurgency and have often used excessive force and committed abuses during military operations;

B. Whereas since the emergence of Boko Haram insurgency, its deliberate behaviour specially against schoolboys and schoolgirls in the area has deprived children of access to education: 10.5 million children of primary school age in Nigeria are not attending school , -the highest figure in the world, according to UNESCO figures, whereas, like al-Shabaab in Somalia, Aqmi, Mujao and Ansar Dine in North Mali and Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan, Boko Haram targets children and women who receive an education;

C. Whereas Nigeria has succeeded in carrying out a mostly peaceful presidential and gubernatorial election despite the threats of Boko Haram to disturb the ballot;

D. Whereas the then called Boko Haram has abducted more than 1000 women and girls in Nigeria since 2009, among which the kidnapping of 276 schoolgirls from Chibok, north east of the country on 14 April 2014, which captivated the entire world and provoked an international campaign (“Bring back our Girls”) to rescue them , whereas almost a year and half after then, more than 200 girls captured in that incident remain disappeared;

E. Whereas many more children have since gone missing, abducted or recruited to serve as fighters, house workers, the girls are subjected to rape and enforced marriage, whereas since April 2015,   some 300 others girls and women were rescued by the Nigerian security forces from terrorists stronghold and about 60 others who could escape their captors from another location described their life in captivity to Human Rights Watch as made of daily violence and terror, physical and psychological abuses;

F. Whereas more than 1.5 million people are displaced, including 800,000 children, 23,000 of them separated from their parents, forced from their home by the violence, running to save their lives, inside Nigeria or crossing over borders to Cameroon, Chad and Niger, UNICEF says;

G. Whereas the number of attacks by Boko Haram has risen in Nigeria as well as in neighbouring Cameroon, Chad and Niger; whereas Boko Haram continues to abduct children an women to carry explosive devices, using them without their knowing as suicide bombers ; whereas some of those who had sought refuge on the Chadian side pieces of land in Lake Chad were targeted again by the same terrorists on Chadian soil ;

H. Whereas UNICEF, together with governments and partners in Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger, is increasing its operations to assist thousands of children and their families in the region with access to safe water, education, counselling and psychological support, as well as vaccinations and treatment for severe acute malnutrition;

I. Whereas number of the abducted women and girls who were rescued or have escaped or have been freed, return home pregnant and in dire need of reproductive and maternal health care, others lack access to basic post-rape health screening, post-traumatic care, social support and rape counselling, according to HRW; whereas the European Commission has stated that where the pregnancy causes unbearable suffering, women must have access to the full range of sexual and reproductive health services based on their medical condition, including abortion, and therefore asserting that international humanitarian law shall in any case prevail.

1. Strongly condemns Boko Haram crimes, including suicide bombing in Chad and Cameroon, terrorist raids on Niger, stands with its victims and conveys its condolences to all the families who lost loved ones; denounces the ongoing relentless violence in the Nigerian States of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa and other cities of the country;

2. Calls on the President and his newly (30/09/2015) appointed federal government to adopt strong measures to protect civilian population and put special emphasis on protection of women and girls, to make women’s rights and children’s rights a priority when fighting extremism, to provide help for victims and to prosecute those responsible, to ensure women’s participation in decision-making at all levels ;

3. Welcomes the change in military leadership and requires that all the human rights abuses and crimes committed by both sides of terrorists and Nigerian security forces to be investigated in order to address the lack of accountability noticed under the former presidency;

4. Urges the President of the Federal Republic to address the challenges to keep all campaign promises and latest statements of which the most important are defeating the terrorist threat, making the respect for human rights and humanitarian law a central pillar of military operations, bringing back the Chibok girls and all the abducted women and children alive and unharmed, addressing the ever growing problem of malnutrition and fighting corruption and impunity to deter future abuses and work towards justice for every victim ;

5. Urges the Nigerian authorities and the international community to work closely and increase efforts in reversing the continuous trend leading to further displacement of people;

6. Urges the international community to help Nigeria and neighbouring countries who host refugees, Cameroon, Chad and Niger, to give all necessary medical and psychological assistance to those in need; appeals the authorities in the sub region for ease of access to safe abortion for women and girls who had been raped; stresses the need of the implementation of an universal standard for the treatment of war rape victims and ensuring the primacy of international humanitarian law in situations of armed conflict; expresses its full sympathy to the women and children survivors of the blind terrorism of Boko Haram; calls for the establishment of specialized education programmes directed to women and children victims of war, which would aim at help them overcome the terror lived, give appropriate and comprehensive information, and help them to become a valuable member of the society;

7. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, The Commission, the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the Government and the Parliament of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and the representatives of the ECOWAS and the African Union.

Motion for a resolution on the displacement of children in Northern Nigeria as a result of Boko Haram attacks – B8-2015-1027

The European Parliament,

–       having regard to its previous resolutions on Nigeria and in particular to its most recent plenary debate on the matter, of 30 April 2015,

–       having regard to the statements by the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, including those of 8 January, 19 January, 31 March, and 14 and 15 April 2015, 3 and 27 July,

–       having regard to the EU Council conclusions on abduction in Nigeria of 9 February 2015,

–       having regard to Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 583/2014 of 28 May 2014 which added Boko Haram to the list of persons, groups and entities covered by the freezing of funds and economic resources,

–       having regard to the statements by the High Commissioner of the United Nations for Human Rights on the possibility that members of Boko Haram could be accused of war crimes,

–       having regard to the ECOWAS Political Declaration and Common Position against Terrorism of 2013, which provides for a regional Counter-Terrorism Strategy and an Implementation Plan to help member states to combat terrorism,

–       having regard to the UN Security Council Presidential Statement of 19 January 2015, which demanded the cessation of hostilities by Boko Haram in Nigeria and the release of hostages, while on 14 February 2015 the UN Security Council condemned Boko Haram attacks, including those on civilians in Chad, Cameroon and Niger,

–       having regard to the 24th African Union Summit of January 2015, which welcomed and supported the efforts deployed by Member States of the Lake Chad Basin Commission and the Republic of Benin to establish a Joint Military Staff Headquarters for conduct of military operations against the Boko Haram terrorist group,

–       having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948,

–       having regard to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 1966, ratified by Nigeria on 29 October 1993,

–       having regard to the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), adopted in 1979,

–       having regard to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights of 1981, ratified by Nigeria on 22 June 1983,

–       having regard to the UN Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination based on Religion and Belief of 1981,

–       having regard to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, ratified by Nigeria in 1991,

–       having regard to the second revision of the Cotonou Agreement, ratified by Nigeria on 27 September 2010,

–       having regard to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria adopted on 29 May 1999, and in particular the provisions of Chapter IV on the protection of fundamental rights, including the right to life, the right to a fair hearing, the right to the dignity of human persons, and the protection of freedom of expression, freedom of the press, freedom of thought, freedom of conscience and freedom of religion,

–       having regard to Rule 123(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas Boko Haram aims to establish a fully Islamic state in Nigeria, including the implementation of criminal sharia courts across the country, and to forbid western education, particularly to females;

B.  whereas Boko Haram has attacked Nigeria’s police and military, politicians, schools, religious buildings, public institutions and civilians with increasing regularity since 2009, while terrorist acts against civilians continued to escalate by 2013;

C.  whereas in 2015 alone, Boko Haram has killed more than 3.500 civilians;

D.  whereas the Boko Haram attacks have resulted in a massive displacement of local population, including 1.4 million children;

E.  whereas in the last five months alone, 500.000 children had to flee their homes;

F.  whereas women and girls have been sexually enslaved, raped and forced into so-called “marriages”; whereas many survivors of these horrific experiences are now pregnant by their rapists;

G.  whereas the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights recommends to “provide remedies for women and girls whose human rights have been violated, including for sexual violence, establishing a mechanism for nullifying forced marriages, provision of psychosocial counselling, rehabilitation and social reintegration, comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services, including HIV treatment, safe abortion services at a minimum in cases of rape, and to preserve the life and health of the woman or girl, with the full, free and informed consent of the woman or girl, and measures to address stigma against women and girl victims of sexual violence and their child” (Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on violations and abuses committed by Boko Haram and the impact on human rights in the affected countries, 29 September 2015);

H.  whereas in April 2014 more than 270 girls were kidnapped from a government school in Chibok (Borno state); whereas the majority remain missing; whereas since then hundreds more people have been abducted by Boko Haram;

I.  whereas girls as young as 10 years old have been used to carry explosives that detonated in busy markets and bus stations, raising fears that Boko Haram may be using some of its hundreds of kidnapped victims in bomb attacks;

J.  whereas Boko Haram’s international connections to al-Shabaab in Somalia and Al-Quaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQUIM) provide financial support, training and equipment, but whereas Boko Haram is so diffuse that fighters associated with it do not necessarily follow the Salafi doctrine; whereas Boko Haram also generates funds i.e. through drug trafficking, smuggling, weapons trafficking, kidnappings and begging; whereas in addition, some politicians are reportedly supporting the organisation directly;

K.  whereas the Nigerian Government has not been able to quell the insurgency; whereas Nigerian soldiers have carried out mass incarcerations and detentions, as well as extrajudicial killings and other large numbers of violations of human and international law;

L.  whereas following the publication of an Amnesty International report on 3 June, President Buhari pledged to investigate evidence that Nigerian military forces have committed serious human rights violations, war crimes and acts which may constitute crimes against humanity; whereas to date, no investigation has begun;

M.  whereas the humanitarian situation is dreadful and continues to deteriorate with worsening food insecurity combined with poor access to education, safe drinking water and health services; whereas many families are left without health services, such as routine immunization, maternal and childcare; whereas across the four countries, more than 1100 schools are closed due to the conflict and teachers and students have been deliberately targeted by armed groups;

N.  whereas humanitarian aid needs are far from being met by corresponding funds; e.g. UNICEF has received only 32 percent of the US$ 50.3 million required this year for its humanitarian response across the Lake Chad region; whereas without additional financial support, hundreds of thousands of children will have no access to basic health care, safe drinking water and education;

O.  whereas Nigeria assembled a joint task force (JTF) of military and police units to battle Boko Haram and declared a state of emergency in three northeast states – Borno, Yobe, and Adamawa – in May 2013, but whereas the move pushed the militants out of cities and attacks in rural areas continued;

P.  whereas Boko Haram’s nearly six-year insurgency spilled over from Nigeria into Cameroon in 2013 and into neighbours Chad and Niger;

Q.  whereas in May 2014, Chad and Cameroon agreed to deploy thousands of soldiers to their borders to work together with the Nigerian army, as the Government of Nigeria has found it extremely difficult to handle the crisis;

R.  whereas the Boko Haram terrorist attacks have starkly revealed the inefficiencies of the authorities to address insecurity; whereas poor governance, omnipresent corruption and worsening socio-economic conditions in northern Nigeria are components of the security problem;

S.  whereas economic growth in Nigeria is highly unequal; whereas levels of poverty and unemployment in northern Nigeria are considerably higher than in the oil-rich south;

T.  whereas Boko Haram appeals to the young and poor, and whereas due to their socio-economic circumstances, they are particularly vulnerable to indoctrination and radicalisation by religious fanaticism;

U.  whereas decades of economic mismanagement, instability and corruption have hindered investment in Nigeria’s education and social services systems;

V.  whereas the oil and gas sectors remain the main sources of revenue in Nigeria; whereas both of these sectors are located mainly in the southern part of the country; whereas the northern economy, which is dominated by agricultural production, is also experiencing the effects of climate change, deindustrialisation owing i.a. to energy shortages and the deterioration of infrastructure;

W.  whereas by some estimates, between USD 3 and 8 billion of Nigerian oil is stolen annually; whereas decades of corruption and misrule have undermined the state’s authority and legitimacy;

X.  whereas a development-focused response to the crisis, a ‘Marshall plan for the North’ was announced only in April 2014 by the Nigerian authorities;

1.  Strongly condemns all human rights abuses by Boko Haram since 2009, including those involving violence against civilian populations, notably women and children, kidnappings, killings, hostage-taking, pillaging, rape, sexual slavery and other sexual violence, recruitment of children to act as suicide bombers, destruction of civilian property, as well as the attacks in the Lake Chad Basin region along Nigeria’s borders with Chad and Cameroon and in the northern provinces in Cameroon;

2.  Recalls that, while Boko Haram was becoming more violent, harsh government treatment, including pervasive police brutality, and violent clashes between Christians and Muslims enabled the group to radicalise; in particular, points out that the Nigerian police was responsible for hundreds of extrajudicial killings and disappearances each year that largely went uninvestigated and unpunished; welcomes the pledge by President Buhari to investigate evidence that Nigerian military forces have committed serious human rights violations, war crimes and acts which may constitute crimes against humanity; regrets however that until today no real action has been taken;

3.  Believes that the Nigerian Government has the right and responsibility to defend its people from terrorism, but insists that such actions must be conducted with respect for human rights and the rule of law;

4.  Points out that while Boko Haram’s insurgency initially emerged as a localised Nigerian problem, it has, over time, transformed into a major threat to peace and security in the West African region; accordingly, calls on the Nigerian Government to develop a comprehensive strategy that addresses the root causes of these dynamics, focusing on a soft approach that aims to erode the appeal of Boko Haram’s ideology, inhibit opportunities for recruitment and radicalisation and cut off its financial funding;

5.  In particular, deems that robust and targeted interventions to create jobs in Nigeria, especially in the north, and amongst the border communities of neighbouring countries at large, should form a key priority of the states to dry up Boko Haram’s recruiting base;

6.  Urges donors to increase their humanitarian assistance to refugees, internally displaced people and host communities in Nigeria and neighbouring countries and to give address the huge problem of sexual slavery, rape and its consequences, in particular when it comes to physical and psychological health of victims, exclusion of girls and women from local communities and unwanted pregnancies;

7.  Asks the newly-elected President to maintain his campaign promises and to use available resources to end the violence of Boko Haram, re-establishing stability and security over the whole country; reiterates, in this context, that a military approach alone will not suffice to counter the Boko Haram insurgency, but deems that regional peace and security will only be achieved through a multi-dimensional approach that addresses legitimate grievances, past and current human rights violations and root causes of the conflict;

8.  Recalls that while Nigeria is Africa’s largest economy, largest oil producer and most populous country, its human development indicators are among the world’s lowest, and a majority of the population lives in extreme poverty;

9.  Recalls that Boko Haram’s origins are rooted in grievances over poor governance, pervasive corruption and sharp inequality in Nigerian society; in a context where levels of poverty and unemployment in northern Nigeria are considerably higher than in the oil-rich south, urges the newly-elected President to implement the ‘Marshall plan for the North’; in particular, urges the Nigerian authorities to eliminate corruption, mismanagement and inefficiencies within the public institutions, to provide better education and health care services in the north and to ensure fair repartition of benefits from oil wealth to ensure proper regional development;

10.  Calls on the Nigerian authorities and foreign companies to help strengthen governance in the extractives sector by abiding by the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative and publishing what companies pay to the Nigerian Government;

11.  In a context where state responses and police brutality and impunity added to the tensions and escalation of violence, stresses that improving the human rights record of the Nigerian security forces is essential to combat Boko Haram, since it could boost public confidence in the Nigerian security forces, thus encouraging citizens to share information on the insurgents and their collaborators;

12.  More broadly, urges the newly-elected President to eradicate the root causes of radicalisation; this should include measures that put an end to the culture of entrenched impunity and human rights abuses, i.e. by pursuing vigorous reforms of the judicial system; actively engage in addressing the governance deficit and corruption at all levels; adopt measures to deprive Boko Haram of its sources of illegal income, through cooperation with neighbouring countries, in particular with regard to smuggling and trafficking; step up measures to reverse negative socio-economic disparities; encourage and facilitate dialogue across all Nigerian states, ethnic and religious groups, with a view to embarking on a comprehensive decentralisation reform process; fight against tax evasion and illicit financial flows;

13.  Reiterates its call for the immediate release of those who have been abducted, including the girls from Chibok; stresses that those responsible for all abuses and violations of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law must be held accountable;

14.  Urges that girls and women who are victims of rape in the context of armed conflict be offered the full range of sexual and reproductive health services, including abortion, in EU-funded humanitarian facilities, in accordance with the Geneva Conventions’ common Article 3 guaranteeing all necessary medical care required by the condition of the wounded and sick, and without adverse distinction;

15.  Welcomes the determination expressed at the Niamey Regional Summit of 20 and 21 January 2015 by the 13 participating countries, in particular the military commitment of Chad, together with Cameroon and Nigeria, to the fight against the terrorist threats of Boko Haram; encourages a strengthening of this regional response;

16.  Welcomes the initiatives of the Peace and Security Council of the African Union and calls on the African Union to engage, as a matter of urgency, in concrete action, together with all countries involved, to coordinate the fight against terrorist groups in the Sahel region; but recalls that measures taken to combat the terrorist threat of Boko Haram should be conducted in line with international human rights, humanitarian and refugee law;

17.  Calls on ECOWAS to continue the operationalisation of its new Counter-Terrorism Strategy, paying particular attention to the containment of trans-border illicit flows of arms, weapons, fighters and contraband; likewise, deems that the ECOWAS strategy should include a soft approach of improving state services, strengthening of governance and humanitarian aid for those affected by terrorism; urges the EU to facilitate intra-regional initiatives;

18.  Calls upon religious authorities in Nigeria to cooperate in the fight against radicalisation and to use their influence in order to prevent the spread of the fundamentalist Boko Haram ideology;

19.  Urges the VP/HR and the EU to remain committed to their diplomatic efforts in Nigeria, with humanitarian aid assistance to the populations affected by the crisis as well as long-term development cooperation in order to achieve peace, security, good governance and respect for human rights; in particular, urges them to continue political dialogue with Nigeria under Article 8 of the revised Cotonou Agreement, and in that context to address issues relating to universal human rights, including freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief, and non-discrimination on any grounds, as enshrined in universal, regional and national human rights instruments;

20.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council and the Commission, the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the Federal Government of Nigeria, the institutions of the African Union and of ECOWAS, the United Nations Secretary-General, the United Nations General Assembly, the Co-Presidents of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly and the PAN-African Parliament (PAP).

Motion for a resolution on the displacement of children in Northern Nigeria as a result of Boko Haram attacks – B8-2015-1023

The European Parliament,

 Having regard to the Statement by the Spokesperson on the repeated suicide attacks in Cameroon and Nigeria and the continuing violence in the region of 27 July 2015

 Having regard to the Convention on the Rights of the child of 1989 and its optional protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict of 2000

 Having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948

 Having regard to the Council decision to add Boko Haram to the EU list of designated terrorist organizations

 Having regard to United Nations Decision of December 2014 to formally establish in Nigeria a country task force on children affected by armed conflict to monitor and report on violations against children in the country by Boko Haram

 Having regard to the report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on violations and abuses committed by Boko Haram and the impact on human rights in the affected countries of 29 September 2015;

 Having regard to the Commission’s decision to allocate €1.8 billion from the EU’s financial means to set up an ‘Emergency Trust Fund for stability and addressing root causes of irregular migration and displaced persons in Africa in Africa’.

 Having regard to its previous resolutions on Nigeria

 Having regard to rule 135 of its Rules of Procedure

A.  Whereas despite recent advances by Nigerian and regional armed forces, Boko Haram fighters continue to deliberately target civilians and to commit war crimes and crimes against humanity, including murder, torture, rape, forced marriages and the recruitment of child soldiers,

B.  Whereas a sharp increase in attacks by the armed group Boko Haram has uprooted 500000 children over the past five months, bringing the total number of children on the run in northeast Nigeria and neighbouring countries to 1.4 million, over half of them under 5 years old

C.  Whereas at least 1600 civilians have been killed by Boko Haram in the last 4 months bringing the death toll to at least 3500 civilians in 2015 alone

D.  Whereas on Saturday 3 October five girls have reportedly detonated themselves in the north-eastern city of Maiduguri, killing at least 18 people and wounding more than 40; whereas news agencies quoted local witnesses and officials as saying that some of the girls “were as young as nine and not older than fourteen.”; whereas no group has claimed the attacks yet but using female suicide bombers is a common tactic of Boko Haram, which is also present in the area;

E.  Whereas Madiguri’s bomb attack is just the last in time as such kind of attacks continue to kill and cause injury to civilians across north-east Nigeria; whereas although Boko Haram does not claim responsibility for such attacks, the modus operandi (bomb attacks routinely targeting locations with no military objective, including markets, transport hubs, bars, restaurants and places of worship) fit the group’s methods and targets,

F.  Whereas women and girls are involved in approximately three quarters of the attacks, showing that Boko Haram trains them in the use of explosives, and children are used to carry bombs strapped to their bodies and detonated remotely in public places,

G.  Whereas young women and girls have been abducted, subjected to forced marriage, physical and psychological abuse, forced labour and rape,

H.  Whereas there are reports of children joining CJTF (Civilian Joint Task Force, a group of militants formed in Maiduguri to oust Boko Haram from the city) and other vigilante groups, voluntarily or forcibly, and being used to man checkpoints, gather intelligence and participate in armed patrols,

I.  Whereas in the sub-region (Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger) there are at least 208000 children without access to education, 83000 children lacking access to safe waters and in the North East of Nigeria 23000 children who have been separated from their families;

J.  Whereas most of the children living in IDP and refugee camps have lost (either killed or missing) one or both parents as well as siblings and other relatives; whereas, although a number of international and national humanitarian organizations are operating in the camps, the situation of access to basic rights for many of these children, including nutrition, shelter (overcrowded and unsanitary), health and education remain of abysmally low quality

K.  Whereas in the most affected areas health centres have been destroyed and many health workers have fled while others are not able to access those in need because of the security situation, leaving families and children without health services and at risk of dying from diarrhoea, malaria or malnutrition

L.  Whereas cholera begun to spread in August in an internally displaced persons (IDP) camp in Maiduguri and then spread to two of the city’s other IDP sites; whereas as of 15 September, 172 cholera cases and 16 deaths have been officially recorded,

M.  Whereas in the affected areas many schools are closed or facing major disruptions of services as teachers and students have been deliberately targeted by armed groups and buildings have been damaged, looted or occupied;

N.  Whereas UNICEF’s appeal for its humanitarian response across the lake Chad region remains only 32% funded, thus compromising the delivery of essential services and aid for children, including immunization and access to clean and safe water;

O.  Whereas following Presidential elections, president Buhari pledged to investigate evidence that Nigerian military forces had committed serious human rights violations in the context of the fight against Boko Haram but to date, no investigation has begun

1.  Condemns in the strongest possible terms the terrorist group Boko Haram and its guerrilla tactics consisting in raiding villages for supplies, using women and children to bomb soft targets like places of worships, markets and bus stations as well as using kidnapping and raping as weapons of war,

2.  Strongly condemns the recruitment and use of children in the conflict and demands all relevant parties put an end to such practice; calls on the government to take special measures to prevent children being used by vigilante groups and to include child protection in military training and standard operating procedures; believes that in cases of children formerly associated with Boko Haram, or other armed groups, non-judicial measures alternative to prosecution and detention should be considered;

3.  Welcomes Nigerian Armed Forces renewed commitment to continue the ongoing coordinated joint assaults on Boko Haram in the north-east to put an end to Boko Haram guerrillas’ operations as well as the recent deployment of the 7th Brigade of the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) in order to stop the infiltration of the terrorist elements into the country and its neighbours;

4.  Call upon regional countries participating in military operations against Boko Haram to carry out their operations against the group in compliance with international humanitarian, refugee and human rights law and to take all necessary measures to ensure the protection of children and minimize the impact of the conflict on them; welcomes the fact that child protection provisions have been included in the Multinational Joint Task Force concept of operations,

5.  Calls on Boko Haram to urgently end the deliberate targeting of civilians and to publically condemn all abuses of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law by its members and those who fight on its behalf;

6.  Welcomes President Buhari declarations that reaffirmed his administration’s commitment to the rule of law as well as the warning that proven acts of human rights violation by the Armed Forces will be punished under his leadership; urges the government of Nigeria to ensure that in their own operations they take all necessary legal measures to guarantee the security of civilians and their properties in the affected areas as well as the full respect of the rule of law in their counter-insurgency strategy;

7.  Calls on the Nigerian Government to launch, as promised by President Buhari, an urgent, independent and through investigation on crimes under international law and other serious human rights violations by all parties to the conflict; in this context reminds that any effort to tackle the insurgency has to be carried out in accordance with the Nigerian Government’s obligations under international law,

8.  Calls on the Nigerian Government to take steps to strengthen measures to protect civilians, especially the most vulnerable groups like women and children, in the context of the counter-insurgency operations as well as provide remedies for women and girls whose human rights have been violated including, but not limited to, mechanism for nullifying forced marriages, psychological counselling, rehabilitation and social reintegration mechanisms;

9.  Calls on the Nigerian government to take measures to facilitate the return of displaced people, especially children, to grant their safety and to assist NGOs in their efforts to improve the conditions of the camps for people displaced by the conflict by, inter alia, improving the hygiene and sanitation in order to prevent the possible spreading of diseases;

10.  Urges the Human Rights Council to renew its request for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to continue regularly reporting to it on human rights abuses and violations committed in countries where Boko Haram operates;

11.  Welcomes the work of UNICEF, other UN agencies and local and international non-government organizations in the affected area and calls on further scaling up the humanitarian assistance to children and families affected by the crisis;

12.  Is extremely worried by the sever funding shortfall experienced by the actors on the grounds; calls on the international community and donors to increase their contribution for the humanitarian response across the Lake Chad region;

13.  Urges the Members states as well as other public and private donors to contribute to the new Trust Fund for Africa; believes this new tool should prioritize interventions to address the needs of uprooted people, especially children, in a variety of sectors (access to basic health care, safe drinking water, child protection and education, nutrition); urges the Trust Fund Operational Committee, given the criticality of the situation, to speed up its decisional process with a view to start projects in the Lake Chad Basin as soon as possible;

14.  Welcomes the liberation from Boko Haram’s controlled camps of 241 women and children by the Nigerian military but is saddened that, after more than 500 days, the 230 girls kidnapped from a school in Chibok are still missing; urges the government to don’t stop and renovate its efforts to find and free them and all other people kidnapped by Boko Haram during the conflict;

15.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the Member States, the Federal Government of Nigeria, the institutions of the African Union, the UN Secretary-General, the UN General Assembly, the Co-Presidents of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly and the Pan-African Parliament.