ABUJA – The United Nations Office for West Africa (UNOWA), said  that no fewer than 700,000 Nigerians were displaced by the Boko Haram insurgency.
Mr. Mohammed Ibn Chambas, the Special Representative of the Secretary General of the UN for West Africa, said this at the 46th Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government (HOSG).
Chambas, who put the number of refugees and returnees in Chad, Cameroon, and Niger at about 142,000 persons called on all parties concerned to intensify efforts at ensuring the objectives of the Millennium Development Goals were met.
“The Boko Haram insurgency continues to create mayhem as innocent civilian populations are being killed and entire communities are living under very challenging security situations.
“The regional dimension of this violent extremism is more than ever visible.
“The number of refugees and returnees in Chad, Cameroon, and Niger is estimated at about 142,000 persons.
“In Nigeria Internally Displaced Persons are estimated to be about 700,000.
“Efforts need to be stepped up to globally and comprehensively combat the insurgency.
“The issue of youth unemployment needs to be urgently addressed and the attainment of the objectives of the MDGs which has been shadowed by the many security challenges we’re facing, not only on the African continent but the entire world, needs to be refocused.
“The nexus between peace, security and development cannot be overemphasised,“ he said.
The UN representative also commended ECOWAS for restoring political stability in Burkina Faso.
He said: “UN will remain actively engaged jointly with ECOWAS to prepare for transparent, free, and fair elections that will mark the end of the transition period in 2015.
“Events in Burkina Faso should be viewed as a call for improved governance and especially participative democracy which allows the driving force in our region.“
Chambas also called for concerted efforts at ensuring violent-free elections in member-states preparing to hold elections in 2015.