UK to send more armed forces to Nigeria to advise on Boko Haram

Defence secretary Michael Fallon says British force will increase from 125 to 300 to provide training and act in advisory role

The UK is to more than double its deployment of British forces to Nigeria to help in the fight against the Islamist jihadi group Boko Haram.

The British forces will be not be involved in combat roles, only training and in an advisory role, said the defence secretary, Michael Fallon, on a visit to Nigeria on Monday.

The UK is to increase a force of 125, sent to Nigeria six months ago, to 300. The reinforcements amount to a recognition of the failure so far to deal with Boko Haram at a regional level.

The US, which regards Boko Haram as closely linked to Islamic State, began deploying 300 troops to Cameroon in October. As well as operating in Nigeria, Boko Haram has been increasingly active in neighbouring countries such as Cameroon.

Washington opted to deploy in Cameroon rather than Nigeria because of concerns in Congress about the Nigerian army, including alleged human rights abuses.

Fallon, whose visit to Nigeria was to include talks with defence officials as well as the Nigerian president, Muhammadu Buhari, said: “Boko Haram is a brutal organisation that has murdered and kidnapped innocent civilians. We stand united with Nigeria in its efforts to defeat them. Stepping up our training efforts will help support the armed forces of Nigeria for crucial counter-insurgency operations.”

The extra British forces will start being deployed early next year. Areas of training will include countering improvised explosive devices and providing medical assistance. An RAF team will help the Nigerian air force in counter-insurgency and protection of airfields. Training is already being provided in areas such as infantry skills.

The UK has small forces of trainers and advisers with the Iraq army in and around Baghdad, with the Kurdish peshmerga in northern Iraq, and in western Ukraine, and is about to send a team to Libya to scope out the feasibility of sending troops there.


Ewen MacAskill Defence correspondent

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Boko Haram is Nigeria's enemy | Chika Unigwe

Chika Unigwe: Nigeria's bloody violence isn't about religious division, it stems from one extremist group: Boko Haram

Chika Unigwe

22, Jan, 2012 @10:00 PM

Article image
Boko Haram landmines in Nigeria killed at least 162 in two years – study
Charity warns of a new landmine crisis in north-east Nigeria as casualty rate rises

Ruth Maclean West Africa correspondent

23, Sep, 2018 @12:11 PM

Article image
Nigeria detained children as young as five over 'Boko Haram links' – report
Human Rights Watch says thousands of children were detained in distressing conditions by military over last six years

Ruth Maclean, west Africa correspondent

11, Sep, 2019 @6:00 AM

Article image
Boko Haram using loans to recruit members in face of crackdown
The group is forcing local traders to spy on their communities in what observers say is a sign that it is under pressure to find new members

Isaac Abrak in Abuja

09, May, 2016 @1:33 PM

Yola: the city where people fleeing Boko Haram outnumber 400,000 locals
Looming humanitarian crisis in Nigeria’s Adamawa state as aid workers say only a fraction of 1.5m refugees settled in camps

Monica Mark in Yola

28, Jan, 2015 @2:41 PM

Article image
Chibok girls who escaped Boko Haram defy militants by returning to school
Left to fend for themselves by the government, the traumatised schoolgirls a second chance at education thanks to one determined Nigerian woman

Monica Mark in Yola

03, Feb, 2015 @1:54 PM

Article image
Boko Haram: soaring numbers of children used in suicide attacks, says Unicef
Across north-east Nigeria and neighbouring countries, 44 children were used in suicide attacks in 2015, three-quarters of them girls

Sam Jones

12, Apr, 2016 @9:55 AM

Article image
Queuing all day for a three-minute call: reuniting families torn apart by Boko Haram | Ruth Maclean
For Nigerians displaced from Lake Chad by the Islamist insurgents, a weekly conversation on a borrowed phone is the best chance of finding missing relatives

Ruth Maclean in Baga Sola

26, Sep, 2017 @6:00 AM

Article image
Boko Haram massacre: ‘I walked through five villages and each one was empty except for dead bodies’
Victims tell harrowing tales of attacks, but clearest revelation may be the divisive politics underlying the five-year insurgency

Monica Mark, west Africa correspondent

14, Jan, 2015 @3:02 PM

Article image
Counting the cost of the Boko Haram crisis - podcast transcript
Attacks by Boko Haram in south-east Niger have created a humanitarian crisis. Lucy Lamble visited the country’s Diffa region to speak to people displaced by the violence and investigate relief efforts

Lucy Lamble and Kary Stewart

05, Aug, 2015 @3:51 PM