Five million people are hit by the humanitarian fallout of the Boko Haram insurgency. Beyond ending the war, this briefing, the last of four examining famine threats in Nigeria, Yemen, South Sudan and Somalia, urges donors to fund their UN aid pledges in full and the Nigerian government to step up relief for its citizens.
President Buhari remained in UK on ‘‘medical vacation’’ that began 7 May; Acting President Osinbajo and other ruling party leaders who visited him said he was recovering and would return soon. Boko Haram (BH) continued attacks in Borno state in NE killing over 100 during month. BH 25 July ambushed oil exploration team from federal govt-owned Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation and University of Maiduguri, killing some 50 people and abducting unknown number. BH 28 July issued video of abducted university staff, who said they were held by Al-Barnawi faction. BH 3 July attacked military bases in Gulumba Gana, Bama and Dikwa Local Govt Areas (LGA), unknown number of soldiers and insurgents killed. BH 3 July raided Agari and Azir villages, Damboa LGA, killing three. Two male suicide bombers tried to attack university in state capital Maiduguri 6 July, security forces shot dead one, second blew himself up. Multiple suicide attacks (at least one bomber female) 11 July killed at least nineteen in Maiduguri targeting vigilantes working with army. Security forces 16 July killed two female suicide bombers trying to cross security trench in Mammanti on outskirts of Maiduguri. Female suicide bomber 17 July attacked mosque in Maiduguri, killing eight. BH 24 July attacked Kaleri and Alau, Konduga LGA, killing over fifteen people. Two female suicide bombers 28 July struck displaced persons’ camp in Dikwa LGA, killing at least eight people. Suicide bomber 30 July detonated IED in Kosahari village, Gwoza LGA, killing three. Niger Delta leaders and elders under Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) 11 July urged federal govt to step up implementation of sixteen demands submitted Nov 2016 to President Buhari. Militant group Niger Delta Revolutionary Crusaders 30 July said it would start attacks 30 Sept as dialogue between govt and PANDEF had yielded no results. Farmer-herder violence continued: Fulani group Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association (MACBAN) 15 July reported youths from Kajuru LGA, Kaduna state in centre killed four Fulani herders; 37 more people killed 16-17 July in clashes between Fulani herders and farming communities in same LGA.
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.
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.
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 Niger Delta is rich in resources, but poverty, unemployment and pollution could reignite a rebellion that ended in 2009. Despite the Boko Haram insurgency in the North East, Nigeria must fulfil its promises of support for the southern delta’s economic development, social justice, and environmental regeneration.
The biggest challenge [for President Buhari] would be to calm nerves and curb divisions, to rally Nigerians around a common vision for the country and bring some urgency towards pursuing that vision.
Having been Boko Haram’s best known public face over the years, [Abubakar Shekau] is, in a sense, the defining figure of both the group and the insurgency.
The southeast [of Nigeria] feels it has been politically marginalised. [...] It has been shrunken from being one of the three major regions of the country to now being virtually a minority.
If the [food] crisis [in Nigeria] is prolonged, the frustration within the young people could make them vulnerable to all kinds of criminal engagements.
The public impression is that the ailment [of Buhari] is more serious than his aides admit and there are growing demands on the government to come clean on the true state of his health.
[Tourists in Nigeria] don’t want to go to some places… they think twice before travelling by road and sometimes don’t have the money to travel by plane. It’s very harmful for the local economy.
Crisis Group’s second update to our Watch List 2017 includes entries on Nigeria, Qatar, Thailand and Venezuela. These early-warning publications identify conflict situations in which prompt action by the European Union and its member states would generate stronger prospects for peace.
Many Igbo feel politically and economically marginalised, and the government’s hardline stance is not helping.
Originally published in African Arguments
Despite suffering significant blows in Syria and Iraq, jihadist movements across the Middle East, North Africa and Lake Chad regions continue to pose significant challenges. In this excerpt from the Watch List 2017 – First Update early-warning report for European policy makers, Crisis Group urges the European Union and its member states to prioritise conflict prevention at the heart of their counter-terrorism policy and continue investment in vulnerable states.
For the first time in three decades, four countries, driven by war, verge on famine. Over coming weeks, Crisis Group will publish special briefings on Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia and Nigeria. Each conflict requires tailored response; all need increased aid and efforts to end the violence.
The Boko Haram insurgency is weakening in the Lake Chad basin, but its underlying socio-economic drivers remain to be addressed. In this excerpt from our Watch List 2017, we urge the EU and its member states to support regional governments with winding down vigilante groups, funding youth employment projects, rebuilding agriculture and trade, and restoring public services.