Nigeria seeks Niger’s military support against Boko Haram

Updated 22 May 2013

Nigeria seeks Niger’s military support against Boko Haram

NIAMEY: Nigeria has asked neighboring Niger for support in a week-old offensive against insurgent bases in its semi-desert frontier region, underlining moves toward West African cooperation against jihadis seen as a cross-border threat.
Concerns grew particularly after militants associated with Al-Qaeda seized the north of Mali last year and were dislodged only after French-led military intervention.
Nigeria declared a state of emergency in its northeast states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa last week before unleashing forces on well-armed and determined Boko Haram militants. Nigeria claimed some early successes on Monday.

Nurudeen Muhammed, Nigeria’s minister of state for foreign affairs, delivered the request for help from President Goodluck Jonathan to his Nigerien counterpart Mahamadou Issoufou late on Monday in Niamey.
“We currently have military operations under way in Nigeria in three federal states to combat terrorism and we would like to have Niger’s support in the common fight against these terrorists,” Muhammed told Niger state television.
Military sources say Nigerian forces have faced stiff resistance by hardened Islamist rebels entrenched in the north and using cross-border routes to smuggle in weapons.
Nigeria and Niger signed a bilateral defense pact in October 2012 that includes sharing intelligence on militant groups and joint military exercises. The deal stipulates that a request for military aid by one nation cannot be refused by the other.
The two West African nations share a porous frontier of more than 1,500 km (940 miles). The fighting in Nigeria has pushed more than a thousand refugees across the border into Niger in the past few weeks, according to UN estimates.
Soldiers from Niger and neighboring Chad participated with Nigerian forces in a joint assault on Boko Haram fighters last month in Baga, a fishing settlement on the shores of Lake Chad.
Neighbouring countries were alarmed last year when jihadi militants overran vast tracts of Mali’s desert north, imposing a violent form of sharia (Islamic law) and establishing training camps, some of which trained Boko Haram operatives.
A lightning French offensive ousted the Islamists from northern Mali’s towns but rural pockets of insurgents remain. France is now due to hand over to a UN peacekeeping force made up mostly of African troops, the bulk of them Nigerian.
A spokesman for Nigeria’s military denied reports that its offensive against Boko Haram would force Abuja to pull some of its 1,200 troops out of Mali.


Greece moves more migrants to mainland as arrivals increase

Updated 19 min 30 sec ago

Greece moves more migrants to mainland as arrivals increase

  • Some 697 migrants and refugees arrived in the port of Elefsina near Athens from the island of Samos
  • Greece is struggling with the biggest resurgence in refugee and migrant flows across the Aegean Sea from Turkey since 2015
ATHENS: Authorities in Greece moved more asylum-seekers to the mainland on Tuesday as part of a strategy to reduce the refugee population on outlying islands after an increase in arrivals in recent months.

Some 697 migrants and refugees arrived in the port of Elefsina near Athens from the island of Samos, officials said. Earlier, 120 people arrived from Lesbos.

Greece is struggling with the biggest resurgence in refugee and migrant flows across the Aegean Sea from Turkey since 2015, when more than a million crossed into Europe, many of them via Greece.

The islands, which are closest to Turkey, have been struggling under the influx, with some 33,700 refugees and migrants in overcrowded camps, according to the UN refugee agency UNHCR.

In late September, a woman died in a fire in a tent in a camp on Lesbos, while another fire in a severely overcrowded camp in Samos forced hundreds of people into the streets this month.

“Our focus was mainly on Samos because we want things there to calm down,” migration ministry secretary Manos Logothetis told Reuters.

More than 12,000 people arrived in Greece in September, the highest level in the three-and-a-half years since the EU agreed a deal with Turkey to seal the Aegean corridor to Europe.

Logothetis said up to 300 more people would be leaving Samos this week, and up to 2,000 from all outlying islands next week. Greece aims to move up to 20,000 off the islands by the end of the year, he said.

Athens has announced a stricter migration policy to deal with the crisis, including plans to deport 10,000 people who do not qualify for asylum by the end of next year.