The UK foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, and international development secretary Priti Patel have travelled to the heart of the Boko Haram uprising in Nigeria to show solidarity with the fight to bring the jihadists under control.
In their first joint visit, the two ministers travelled to Maiduguri, the capital of the north-east state of Borno, which suffered the worst killings by the Islamist terrorist group, including attacks at the university campus.
Overall Boko Haram has killed more than 20,000 people, displaced 1.7 million and left 8.5 million in desperate need of urgent support, in some cases on the brink of famine. Borno itself has seen more than 27,000 killings by the terrorist group and others.
Boko Haram is trying to create an Islamic state in the Lake Chad region, which spans parts of Nigeria, Niger, Cameroon and Chad. It gained notoriety by abducting more than 200 girls from the north-east Nigerian town of Chibok in April 2014. Aid groups say it has kidnapped thousands more adults and children.
The UK has so far trained 28,000 Nigerian soldiers and over 40 UK military personnel have been deployed to Nigeria on a long term basis.
On Wednesday, Patel announced an extended five-year package of help, costing an extra £200m, to prevent 1.5 million people lapsing into famine and help keep a 100,000 boys and girls in education. The development secretary’s package also includes the restoration of key infrastructure and services in the north-east of the country.
Johnson said: “Boko Haram has generated suffering, instability and poverty on a huge scale, with profound knock-on effects far from Nigeria’s borders.”
He met survivors of Boko Haram violence, including bomb and gunshot victims, and saw for himself the displacement of people created by the conflict.