United Nations — The U.N. Security Council called Thursday for stepped-up action in Africa against the extremist group Boko Haram which has increased its often deadly attacks and the Lord's Resistance Army which has significantly escalated abductions to fill its fighting ranks.
The council warned that the security situation in parts of the Central African region is "grave" because of "terrorist activities" by Boko Haram which are spilling into neighboring Chad and Cameroon, the LRA threat, the ongoing crisis in Central African Republic, maritime insecurity in the Gulf of Guinea, the illegal trade in wildlife, and organized crime.
A presidential statement expressed the council's concern at the link between illicit trafficking in wildlife and natural resources, and financing of armed groups including the LRA.
The council said Boko Haram's attacks have led an estimated 74,000 Nigerians to flee to Cameroon and displaced 96,000 people within Cameroon. It said Chad is trying to cope with almost 20,000 Nigerians who fled across the border, 8,500 citizens who have returned home, and 14,500 internally displaced people.
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Council members welcomed recent military gains against Boko Haram and urged every country in the region "to further enhance regional military cooperation and coordination to more effectively and immediately combat Boko Haram."
It said the LRA continues to pose a regional security threat, especially in Central African Republic and Congo.
The council urged the African Union to act on an invitation to verify reports that some senior LRA leaders are in the disputed Kafia Kingi enclave on the border between Central African Republic, Sudan and South Sudan.
While the number of deaths that the LRA was responsible for dropped from 76 in 2013 to 36 in 2014, the council said LRA abductions significantly increased to "several hundreds," and the number of displaced rose from 131,090 in September 2014 to 180,000 in December 2014, according to U.N. figures.
Abdoulaye Bathily, the U.N. envoy for Central Africa, said more than 200,000 people remain displaced today. But he said the arrest in January of senior LRA commander Dominic Ongwen "sends a strong message to remaining LRA fighters and signified that international efforts to combat the group ... are bearing fruit."