Archbishop writes on Boko Haram in the Church Times
Friday 16th May 2014The Archbishop of Canterbury describes the challenges involved in tackling Nigerian Islamist militant group Boko Haram - and says external intervention is such situations is 'always difficult'.
The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has said foreign support in tackling Boko Haram should be offered to Nigeria "humbly and respectfully".
Writing in this week's Church Times the Archbishop says that defeating Boko Haram, who last month kidnapped more than 200 schoolgirls from their school in Chibok, northern Nigeria, will take a combination of local police work, winning the hearts and minds local populations, and "careful spiritual and economic development".
Archbishop Justin, who has condemned the kidnapping, says: "External intervention is always difficult. In the first place, our history as the colonial power, and the role of the USA in Iraq and Afghanistan, makes both countries (and indeed much of the 'Christian West') suspicious for many Muslims."
Lamenting a crisis that has claimed "many lives", the Archbishop says help must be offered "humbly and respectfully to a people suffering in a country of great talent and potential."
"Above all, we are called to identify with the poor and suffering in prayer - and then to act as God calls us to be the answer to the prayer we pray."
Well-armed and well-funded, Boko Haram's stated aim is to establish a radical and extremist Islamic caliphate in northern Nigeria, which would next be extended to the rest of Nigeria and beyond.
Both Christians and Muslims, and their places of worship, have been attacked, with several Anglican dioceses especially severely affected.
The Anglican Church of Nigeria is "intimately involved" in seeking a solution, through interfaith dialogue and other efforts, says the Archbishop.
Speaking to Radio 4 last Sunday, the Archbishop said even though Boko Haram was a disparate and "irrational" group, the Nigerian authorities should try to negotiate with them.
"[Boko Haram] are very difficult to deal with and utterly merciless. [They] have a very difficult inner core and negotiation there is extremely complicated, though I think you need to try."