RAF Regiment personnel with Nigerian Air Force
Africa

Could UK Military Involvement In Africa Increase?

The Foreign Secretary highlighted British Army personnel as one way the UK can support the Nigerian army against terrorism.

RAF Regiment personnel with Nigerian Air Force

RAF Regiment personnel have helped train the Nigerian Air Force in the past (Picture: MOD).

Jeremy Hunt has warned of the growing threat posed by terrorist organisations in sub-Saharan Africa as he suggested the UK's military involvement in the region could be increased.

The Foreign Secretary, speaking as he visited Maiduguri in the north east of Nigeria as part of a week-long trip to Africa, said the rise of so-called Islamic State (IS) in west Africa had all the hallmarks of something which, if not "nipped in the bud", could get "a lot worse".

But he said it feels like the sort of situation that could be dealt with if there was "decisive action" by the government of Nigeria with the "appropriate international support".

Boko Haram and IS in west Africa have terrorised the region for several years, but their activities came to the world's attention when hundreds of Nigerian schoolgirls were kidnapped in 2014.

Asked if he supported an increase in military action in the region to keep the threat at bay, Mr Hunt told reporters: "I think the crucial deciding factor is the willingness and enthusiasm of the Nigerian government and the Nigerian army to work closely with us - we would like to support and help them but they are a sovereign nation and able to want our help.

"I think our approach is potentially a very significant one because we could bring not just the British Army but also DFID (Department for International Development) and our experience in holistic solutions to these kind of situations."

The Foreign Secretary met with British military personnel stationed in the region who are working with the Nigerian army in the battle against Boko Haram.

The UK has trained more than 30,000 Nigerian troops in recent years as part of its package of security, humanitarian and development support in the African state.

Britain has invested more than £300 million in aid over five years to reach 1.5 million of the most vulnerable people in the country - with support addressing some of the root causes of the conflict.

British military advisor with Nigerian soldiers
Tens of thousands of Nigerian troops have been trained by the UK (Picture: MOD).