The United States has announced the designation of the Boko Haram terrorist group as an entity “of particular concern”.
The US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo in a statement revealed the designation of Boko Haram alongside the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, al-Qa’ida and al-Shabab.
Pompeo also designated Saudi Arabia, Iran, Burma, North Korea, among “countries of particular concern”, while Comoros, Russia, and Uzbekistan were placed on “special watch list”.
“On November 28, 2018, I designated Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan, as Countries of Particular Concern under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 for having engaged in or tolerated ‘systematic, ongoing, (and) egregious violations of religious freedom.
“I also placed Comoros, Russia, and Uzbekistan on a Special Watch List for governments that have engaged in or tolerated ‘severe violations of religious freedom.
“Finally, I designated al-Nusra Front, al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula, al-Qa’ida, al-Shabab, Boko Haram, the Houthis, ISIS, ISIS-Khorasan, and the Taliban as Entities of Particular Concern,” Pompeo said.
The US top diplomat regretted that in far too many places across the globe, individuals continue to face harassment, arrests, or even death for simply living their lives in accordance with their beliefs.
Pompeo said: “The United States will not stand by as spectators in the face of such oppression.
“Protecting and promoting international religious freedom is a top foreign policy priority of the Trump Administration.
“In July, I hosted the first-ever Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom, which brought together some 85 like-minded governments and more than 400 civil society organisations to harness global attention and motivate forceful action to advance respect for the human right of religious freedom”.
According to him, safeguarding religious freedom is vital to ensuring peace, stability, and prosperity.
“These designations are aimed at improving the lives of individuals and the broader success of their societies.
“I recognise that several designated countries are working to improve their respect for religious freedom; I welcome such initiatives and look forward to continuing the dialogue.
“The United States remains committed to working with governments, civil society organisations, and religious leaders to advance religious freedom around the world,” Pompeo said.
The Boko Haram terrorist activities have claimed thousands of people’s lives, and affected millions of families, leaving behind huge humanitarian crises, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
“The humanitarian crisis in North East Nigeria that has spilled into neighbouring Cameroon, Chad and Niger, is one of the most severe in the world today.
“In North East Nigeria, 10 years of conflict has left more than seven million people in dire need of help in the three worst-affected states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe.
“About 1.8 million people are internally displaced. People need food, water, shelter and health services,” the UN agency said.