Regional armies in the Lake Chad basin deploy vigilantes to sharpen campaigns against Boko Haram insurgents. But using these militias creates risks as combatants turn to communal violence and organised crime. Over the long term they must be disbanded or regulated.
CrisisWatch is a monthly early warning bulletin designed to provide a regular update on the state of the most significant situations of conflict around the world.
Central African RepublicDemocratic Republic of Congo
Central African Republic
Since 2015, the conflict between Chad’s armed forces and Boko Haram has destabilised the Lake Chad region in the west of the country. Defeating this resilient insurgency requires the state to go beyond a purely military campaign and relaunch trade, improve public services and reintegrate demobilised militants.
The struggle against Boko Haram in south-eastern Niger is increasingly sharpening local conflicts over access to resources. There is no military solution to this insurgency, and the authorities should instead put the emphasis on demobilising militants, solving local conflicts, reinvigorating the economy and restoring public services.
President Salva Kiir has played a weak hand well since his main rival was forced out of Juba in July. To avoid new flare-ups in South Sudan’s three-year-old civil war, Kiir and regional states should step up their work on a more inclusive transitional government and peace deals with local rebel groups.
Women have suffered violence and abuse by Boko Haram, but they are not only victims: some joined the jihadists voluntarily, others fight the insurgency, or work in relief and reconciliation. Women’s experiences should inform policies to tackle the insurgency, and facilitate their contribution to peace.
Cameroon’s military campaign against the Boko Haram insurgency started late but has met with partial success. To consolidate gains and bring lasting peace to the Far North, the government must now shift to long-term socio-economic development, countering religious radicalism and reinforcing public services.
Building coalitions at the regional level and ... at the international level will be how [the head of the AU] can make an impact on many of the crises that the continent is facing.
Khartoum has successfully portrayed the SPLM-N as spoilers in the peace talks and inhibitors to humanitarian aid being delivered to the region. This move is likely an attempt to rehabilitate their image.
Are we building any kind of sustainable peace [in Mali] through this kind of process that gives the most resources to the guys with guns?
[Farmajo] should turn his attention firmly [to strengthening the army] and appeal to the West and Arab countries to give Somali troops proper training, equipment, salary.
The road back to credibility and potential solvency was always going to be painful [for Zimbabwe].
The concern in Washington [about Al-Shabaab in Somalia] has been mounting for some time now ... U.S. special forces are already on the ground. Drone attacks have been scaled up.
Conflict in the impoverished Kasai region was sparked by local grievances but has spread to reflect wider discontent, including frustration over the country’s ongoing political and economic crisis.
As part of Crisis Group’s research on civilian defence forces, Horn of Africa Analyst Magnus Taylor spoke to former fighters in Uganda known as the Arrow Boys. The group played an instrumental role in routing the brutal Lord’s Resistance Army when rebels attacked Teso in eastern Uganda in 2003.
As part of Crisis Group’s research into civilian vigilante groups in counter-insurgencies in Africa, Senior Research Analyst Ned Dalby went to Sierra Leone to investigate the wartime Civil Defence Forces and their core fighters, the Kamajors. For an in-depth analysis of vigilantism in the Lake Chad basin, see Watchmen of Lake Chad: Vigilante Groups Fighting Boko Haram.
Political tensions are rising in Kenya ahead of elections in August for the presidency and other senior posts. Measures taken now can avert the risk of a repeat of electoral violence that killed hundreds of people in 2007-2008.
With jihadists and armed groups exploiting political and security vacuums across the Sahel, Mali and neighbouring states will continue to face insecurity. In this excerpt from our Watch List 2017 annual early-warning report for European policy makers, Crisis Group urges the European Union and its member states to rethink international development strategies and to support local government initiatives that combat radicalisation.