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Central African Leaders Create Fund to Fight Boko Haram

Chadian soldiers gather near the Nigerian town of Gamboru, just across the border from Cameroon, to conduct cleanup operations after retaking town from Boko Haram militants, Feb. 1, 2015.

Central African leaders on Monday called for creation of a special fund to help countries affected by Boko Haram.

Meeting in Cameroon’s capital, leaders discussed details of the regional force being deployed to combat the Nigerian insurgents, who have extended attacks to Niger, Cameroon and Chad.

The ten-member Economic Community of Central African States agreed Monday to contribute most of the $100 million needed to combat the Nigeria-based Islamist militants. They also called for quick U.N. approval of a multinational force to pave the way for military involvement by other African nations.

ECCAS chair and Chadian President Idris Deby did not say how much has been raised for the fund, but said some of the money will be used to improve living conditions for people displaced by the militants.

"It is difficult for central African states to face this 'scourge' alone," Deby said, calling for others not touched by terrorism to show solidarity with affected countries. He also called for the international community to bring material, diplomatic, financial, and logistical support to combat Boko Haram.

ECCAS Secretary General Ahmad Alam-Mi said the leaders are still seeking international help to eradicate the Islamist extremist group, which has killed thousands of people in the past five years and displaced about 1 million more.

Boko Haram is using "all barbaric means against the people," using asymmetric methods that make the battle complex and very expensive, Alam-Mi said. He also emphasized a need for solidarity and an appropriate response to eradicate the group that he describes as aiming to destabilize the entire region.

Burundi and the Central Africa Republic announced they will contribute troops to the joint task force.

Central African Republic's Foreign Affairs and Integration Minister Toussaint Kongo-Doudou says despite the civil crisis in his own country, it will support Cameroon and Chad.

"If Boko Haram goes [captures] Cameroon, it will be a total disaster for Central African Republic," he said. "Fighting against Boko Haram means strengthening our capacity to resolve the political crisis and the security crisis back home in the Central African Republic, and we are willing to select part of our national defense forces that can join and support in the fight. So Cameroon is not alone, we stand beside Cameroon."

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon's representative to the meeting, Abdoulaye Bathily, said the U.N. will consider factors such as human rights and the protection of civilian communities before it can give support to the military force.

Direct U.N. support to the joint military force will depend on the authorization of the Security Council, Bathily told ECCAS members, but it is clear that a military-only solution to the Boko Haram threat will not be sufficient. Battling the militants, he added, needs a multidimensional approach that targets the causes of the menace and responds to the challenges of a stable region in the long term.

Leaders from Angola, Burundi, Cameroon, Congo, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Chad, Central African Republic and Sao Tome and Principe took part in Monday's meeting.