|Women at a camp in Wurojuli, Nigeria, for people who have fled Boko Haram violence. |
Notice the great sadness in their eyes - they seem to believe that their lives are ruined.
The one-day meeting of representatives from Benin, Cameroon, Chad and Niger also includes officials from the US, Britain, France and Canada plus the African Union and UN.
Nigeria's ministry of foreign affairs said the talks were aimed at reviewing progress of earlier meetings in Paris and London as well as the Africa summit held in the US last month.
In particular, it would examine "the extent of foreign assistance, including efforts by the Nigerian government, in the continued fight to … rout the Boko Haram insurgency", it added. No wonder it was only a one-day meeting - it certainly wouldn't take very long to review Nigeria's efforts against Boko Haram. Also, there doesn't seem to be any mention of rescuing the Chibok girls on the agenda!
Regional powers vowed to play a greater role against the Islamists after the mass kidnapping of more than 200 girls from their school in north-east Nigeria in April, which caused global outrage.
International powers sent intelligence and surveillance specialists and equipment to Abuja to help trace the missing teenagers, 217 of whom are still being held captive.
But nearly five months on from the abduction, western diplomats have indicated that there has been little progress, despite a claim from Nigeria's military that they had located the girls. A claim that was probably an outright lie, and even if it was the truth, they certainly are not in the same place 2 or 3 months later.
Recent weeks have seen Boko Haram take and hold swaths of territory in north-east Nigeria, with the military seemingly unable (or unwilling) to check their advance.
On Monday, residents said the militants had captured the town of Bama, 45 miles (70km) from the Borno state capital, Maiduguri, sending hundreds of soldiers fleeing. Top brass disputed the claim and maintained that they were still in control.
The attack led to fears that Boko Haram has Maiduguri in its sights and aims to make it the centre of a separate, hardline Islamic state.
Andrew Noakes, co-ordinator of the Nigeria Security Network of analysts, warned that the government was losing control of vast parts of the north-east and a looming humanitarian crisis.
|Abubakar Shekau leader of Boko Haram|
"If Borno falls to Boko Haram, parts of [neighbouring] Yobe and Adamawa [states] can be expected to follow. Parts of Cameroon along the border area would also probably be overrun."
In Maiduguri, where thousands of people have fled violence from across Borno, residents said they were preparing for the worst. "We live in fear of a possible Boko Haram attack on Maiduguri because of the speed with which they are taking over towns and villages," said one, Babagana Kolo. "Our concern is soldiers are not able to stop Boko Haram, who take delight in killing people."
Boko Haram has been blamed for thousands of deaths since 2009 but in recent weeks has changed tactics, shifting from indiscriminate and retaliatory hit-and-run attacks to seizing strategic territory. Undoubtedly inspired by ISIS.
In a video obtained by AFP on 24 August, the group's leader Abubakar Shekau claimed that the town of Gwoza in Borno state was now part of an Islamic caliphate.
It also reportedly holds at least one town in neighbouring Yobe and Adamawa states. Independent corroboration is impossible because of communication and travel difficulties. The government has officially denied ceding territory.
Nigeria has repeatedly played up what it says is the regional aspect of the insurgency, blaming foreign fighters and overseas funding for the violence.
But while some foreign mercenaries may form part of the guerrilla ranks and violence has spilt across borders, some analysts say a wider military response risks internationalising the conflict.
It's already internationalized - hence the meeting. What the west doesn't want is for the conflict to involve any country outside of Africa. You can read into that whatever you want.