As the conflict in Nigeria entered its second decade, Boko Haram factions continued to carry out a series of brutal attacks, including mass abductions of girls and boys. The violence disproportionately affected civilians in the north-east and north- west of the country, as well as parts of Cameroon, Chad and the Niger, resulting in mass displacement and heightened risks of sexual violence. The Government’s special investigations panel on sexual and gender-based violence documented 210 cases of conflict-related sexual violence committed in 2020, including rape and forced marriage, affecting 94 girls, 86 women and 30 boys, noting that such crimes continue to be chronically underreported owing to stigma and harmful social norms. Several governors declared a state of emergency in response to a spike in gender-based violence during lockdowns. In order to promote accountability, the United Nations continued to support national judicial authorities. A specialized unit of the Office of the Attorney General continued to investigate and prosecute crimes committed by Boko Haram factions, although no sexual violence crimes have been prosecuted to date. The United Nations facilitated access to medical care, psychosocial and livelihood support, and legal assistance for survivors. Seven one-stop centres and three shelters in the north-east provided counselling and confidential care to survivors. The United Nations also supported the establishment of the first national forensic DNA laboratory in Adamawa State, which will contribute to effective prosecutions of sexual violence.
I urge the authorities to prioritize the investigation and prosecution of sexual violence, including in counter-terrorism cases, and to strengthen measures to prevent abductions, which increase the risk of rape, forced marriage, sexual slavery and other forms of sexual violence.