LORD GOLDSMITH OF RICHMOND PARK
- The UK Government is concerned about rising insecurity across Nigeria and we condemn all incidents of intercommunal violence, including in the Middle Belt. This violence has a devastating impact on both Christian and Muslim communities. While religious identity is a factor in some incidents of intercommunal violence, we assess that the root causes of violence in the Middle Belt frequently relate to resource competition and criminality, as well as historical and ongoing inter-communal grievances. Officials at our High Commission in Abuja met officials from the Niger State Government on 23 February to discuss a range of security matters, including the attacks in Shiroro. We regularly raise insecurity and human rights in Nigeria with the Nigerian Government. The Minister for Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean raised rising insecurity and its impact on the Nigerian people with the Vice President, Foreign Minister and several State Governors during her recent visit to Nigeria. She also met faith leaders, civil society and international organisations working in states affected by violence. Earlier this month, at the inaugural dialogue of the UK-Nigeria Security and Defence Partnership, the Minister for Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean also held productive discussions with the Nigerian National Security Adviser on the complexity of Nigeria's security situation. At the dialogue, the UK and Nigeria agreed on areas of future cooperation to respond to shared threats, and on our support to Nigeria to tackle a range of security challenges. We continue to make clear to the Nigerian authorities at the highest levels the importance of protecting civilians, including ethnic and religious minorities, and human rights for all.