African states want U.N. trust fund for Boko Haram force

By Michelle Nichols

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - African states want the United Nations to set up a trust fund to finance a force to fight Boko Haram in Nigeria and called on the international community to supply intelligence and equipment, according to a draft U.N. resolution.

The draft U.N. Security Council text endorses the creation of a force by Nigeria and its neighbors Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Benin to take on Boko Haram. The 54-nation African Union has already approved a force of up to 10,000 troops.

Boko Haram has killed thousands of people in northeastern Nigeria in its six-year insurgency and has also pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, which has created a self-declared caliphate in parts of Iraq and Syria.

The text drafted by Chad, Nigeria and Cameroon, and obtained by Reuters, has not yet been circulated to the 15 Security Council members. Chad's U.N. Ambassador Mahamat Cherif has said he hoped the council could vote on a resolution by end-March.

The draft is under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter, allowing decisions to be enforced with economic sanctions or force.

A U.N. diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, said once negotiations begin among the 15 council members some of the key issues would likely be how to finance the operation and whether or not it needs to be a Chapter 7 resolution.

The draft resolution "requests the Secretary-General to establish a trust fund ... which shall be managed by the LCBC (Lake Chad Basin Commission) Member States and Benin under the supervision of the AU (African Union), and encourages Member States to contribute to such a fund".

It "calls upon donors to support (the force) through the provision of funding for troop stipends, equipment, technical assistance, and uncaveated funding for (the force) to the United Nations trust fund".

The text calls for international support for the operational capability of the force by providing equipment and sharing intelligence and urges states "to provide personnel, equipment and services if required, for the successful deployment (of the force)".

The draft resolution also threatens sanctions on anyone supporting Boko Haram.

Chad's military is already spearheading an operation against the Islamist militant group that in recent months has mounted an increasing number of cross-border raids.

(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Jeremy Laurence)