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.
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.
In a troubled region, Burkina Faso is a rare example of religious diversity and tolerance. But a perceived discrepancy between a significant number of Muslims and their low level of public representation has created tensions. To safeguard Burkina’s model of peaceful coexistence, the government must address this sensitive issue through careful reforms, particularly in the education system.
Violence is escalating in Central Mali, often neglected as the world focuses on problems in the country’s north. Radical groups and criminal gangs are exploiting years of short-sighted security policies that have lost the state much of its legitimacy. The government needs to recognise that state authority also rests on public services and dialogue with its people.
Nigeria’s military is in distress. President Muhammadu Buhari’s over-due reforms aren’t yet enough to turn an under-resourced, over-stretched and corrupt army back into a professional force. A complete overhaul is needed, including accountability for human rights abuses, if Nigerians are not to be left at the mercy of Boko Haram and other armed groups.
Boko Haram is losing ground, resources and fighters. But defeating the group and preventing a future insurgency needs more than military success. The 14 May summit in Abuja is an opportunity for Nigeria and its Lake Chad basin neighbours to prepare and implement what's been long overdue: a holistic response to the extremist group.
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has a formidable record in its efforts to promote peace in a particularly turbulent region. Still, reform is essential to give the organisation new impetus, and is ever more urgent as insecurity worsens throughout the Sahel and Lake Chad regions.
The problem with the army [in Côte d'Ivoire] is structural disorder that can’t be sorted out with the punctual signing of cheques, even if the cheques are big.
The Nigerian government owes [the Chibok girls'] parents and the public the fundamental responsibility of accounting for every one of them.
[Nigeria's IPOB group's] separatist demands are actually drawing attention to certain fundamental flaws in the nation's federal system, particularly on the rights of citizens.
For some women trapped in domestic life, Boko Haram offers an escape. But this reflects a huge abyss of desperation among women and a failure of society in the northeast [of Nigeria].
"We're again, as we've been several times since 2013, at a defining moment [in the fight against jihadist groups in northern Mali]. On the political side things have improved, but it is very worrying security-wise.
We have to think very carefully about the use of violence [against Boko Haram], sometimes it is necessary, but it mustn’t aggravate the situation, rather it must help to reduce or resolve the conflict. Force should be used cautiously.
Jihadist groups have regrouped in the neglected hinterlands of Sahel countries and are launching attacks from them. To regain control of outlying districts, regional states must do far more to extend services and representation beyond recently recaptured provincial centres.
It is largely because of women’s compromised position in society that insurgent groups such as Boko Haram can continue to survive.
Originally published in Mail and Guardian Africa
Originally published in Le Monde
Originally published in Jeune Afrique