The violent rise and resilience of the jihadist group Boko Haram in the Lake Chad basin since 2009 poses enormous security, humanitarian and governance challenges. A heavy-handed or solely military response will not bring peace and may be counter-productive. As one of the few organisations with field-based expertise in the greater Sahel and on all four countries caught up in the insurgency - Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria - Crisis Group is well placed to analyse Boko Haram’s activities and impact. We aim to help develop creative and effective responses to contain the group, prevent the spread of violence, and limit the humanitarian impact of the conflict.
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.
You cannot say yet that the [Multinational Joint Task Force tackling Boko Haram] is integrated like a NATO force. It’s just to coordinate; it is not yet a unified force. Each of the forces is based in their own territories.
The Nigerian government owes [the Chibok girls'] parents and the public the fundamental responsibility of accounting for every one of them.
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 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.
Only a quarter [of Boko Haram's recruits] learned about the group at mosques or Islamic schools. [They] used to be the place to get new recruits, but now they are under the spotlight.
Each force [fighting against Boko Haram] is based in its country of origin. There’s no integrated force with battalions moving in perfect coordination.