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.
Boko Haram (BH) attacks and counter-insurgency continued in north east and violence involving herders left over 70 dead in four states. BH in Borno state killed eleven farmers in Amarwa village 13 May; killed four displaced people outside camp in Maiduguri 19 May; hijacked aid lorry going to Damboa 26 May; beheaded five people near Nguro 28 May. Also in Borno state suicide bombers 15 May killed two in Shuwari Buri community; 17 May wounded two soldiers at military checkpoint in Konduga area; killed themselves and, in second attack, soldier at University of Maiduguri 18-19 May. BH commander 12 May said group would continue bombings including in Abuja. UN 16 May warned that Abubakar Shekau’s BH faction was regrouping in Sambisa forest, Borno state; Taraba state governor 18 May said insurgents from Sambisa forest were resettling in Suntai Daaji forest, Taraba state. Air force said it destroyed BH logistics base on edge of Sambisa forest, Borno state 17 May. BH 6 May released 82 of over 200 schoolgirls kidnapped in Chibok, Borno state in April 2014 in return for govt’s release of five commanders. Violence involving herders continued including: 21 people killed 7-10 May in clashes between herders and villagers in three areas in Benue state; four policemen killed 9 May in herders’ ambush in Ethiope East area, Delta state; 32 killed 14-15 May in clashes between herders and villagers in Niger state; twelve killed and 15,000 forced to flee 14-15 May in Taraba state. Gunmen 25 May seized six students in Epe, Lagos state and demanded $2.6mn ransom; gunfight with police rescuers next day left twenty gunmen dead. President Buhari flew back to UK for further medical treatment 7 May without indicating return date. Army chief 17 May said some politicians had approached soldiers for “political reasons” sparking rumours of coup plot. Major cities in SE shut down 30 May as Biafra separatists ordered sit-at-home protest to mark 50 years after Biafra secessionist attempt.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.