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It Will Take Time to Defeat Boko Haram — Archbishop of Canterbury

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The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has described Boko Haram as an ‘evil’ group that will take a long time to defeat.
The archbishop had on British Broadcasting Corporation Radio 4 programme on Friday, described the situation he met in Nigeria on his short visit to the Presidency as pathetic.
According to him, the insurgency in Nigeria’s North-East region is “an extraordinarily difficult situation to get on top of.
“You’ve got to realise this is an area about the size of Scotland … of woods and forest and hills. The Boko Haram is a group of the utmost evil.
“The militants are dealing out death right left and centre without hesitation and without mercy, concentrating a lot on Christian churches, but also attacking Muslims in the local population in vast numbers,” he said.
Welby had earlier expressed doubts in the ability of the Federal Government, the United States of America, Britain and other allies to swiftly rescue the abducted Chibok schoolgirls and bring an end to the Boko Haram insurgency.
The Canterbury archbishop, who had once served as a negotiator between the Presidency and militants in the Niger-Delta during the amnesty programme, said the North-East’s distrust for the US and Britain could stall any intervention.
“It will take a long time,” the archbishop said.
“External intervention is always difficult. In the first place, Britain’s history as the colonial power, and the role of the United States of America in Iraq and Afghanistan, makes both countries suspicious for many Muslims,” he added.
Describing Boko Haram as being well-armed and well funded, the erstwhile negotiator said any approach to deal with the terrorist group “will have to combine police action and careful spiritual and economic development to convince local populations that it is possible to oppose Boko Haram.”
Writing last month in the UK’s Church Times which SUNDAY PUNCH was referred to by the archbishop’s spokesperson, Ed Thornton, Welby said tackling Boko Haram required caution and patience.
He wrote in the publication, “External help should involve advice where it can be offered, support for those who are displaced, expertise in training and development, and, above all, support for reconciliation, which will be long and difficult.
“The crisis has claimed many lives. We need to offer help humbly and respectfully to a people suffering in a country of great talent and potential.”
Welby, while speaking to the BBC Radio 4 in May, said even though Boko Haram was a distinct and “irrational” group, Nigerian authorities should try to negotiate with them.
“Boko Haram is very difficult to deal with and utterly merciless. They have a very difficult inner core and negotiation there is extremely complicated, though I think you need to try.”
Our correspondent made attempts to interview the archbishop about his discussion with Jonathan and his likely role in negotiating with the terrorist group.
In response to our correspondent’s email, Welby’s spokesperson said the archbishop was unavailable to respond to this newspaper’s questions.
“Thank you for your email, which a colleague passed on, and apologies for my delay in responding.
“I’m afraid the Archbishop is unable to provide direct answers to your questions, but I would like to point you to a few stories that have recently been published on his website. And he recently wrote on Boko Haram for Church Times. I hope that information is of use,” Thornton said.
Source: PUNCH.

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