Boko Haram: Continuous Threat to Security in Lake Chad Basin

Boko Haram: continuous Threat to Security in Lake Chad Basin

Boko Haram/Islamic State’s West Africa Province (ISWAP)’s unabating violent activities within and on the borders of the Lake Chad basin (LCB) continue to underscore the threat posed to civilians, particularly children and women, despite ongoing military operations. The groups’ determination to operate across borders, notwithstanding deterrence efforts, has been simplified by the porosity of the borders (resulting in easy crossings and ram trafficking), climate change, and corruption, among others, allowing them to gain easy access into vulnerable rural communities in Far North-Cameroon, Diffa-Niger Republic, and Lac in Chad.

For over a decade, civilians in LCB have faced constant fear, along with forceful abductions, killings, looting (of staple food, household items, and livestock), and being exposed to gender-based violence, all while struggling to make ends meet. During an overnight attack on 23-24 June 2024 in Tourou, Far North region of Cameroon, Boko Haram members reportedly killed three civilians, left two injured and kidnapped two children, 9 and 13. The insurgents raided several homes and shops, stealing foodstuff and motorcycles.

Not only have farmers and fishermen in these affected communities lost their lives, but their source of livelihood is being threatened by the presence of Boko Haram members. For example, on 12 June 2024, at least three civilians were reportedly killed during two separate attacks, the first on the outskirts of Kerewa, Nigeria, and the second in Cameroon’s Far North region. In the former incident, the two victims were working on their farms when the attack occurred. The incident highlights the group’s deliberate plan to disrupt livelihoods.

Millions have been displaced as a result of the ongoing conflict in the LCB, further exacerbating an already bad humanitarian situation whereby access to basic needs like education and health care has become limited. The extent of the crisis has been demonstrated in a report published by ‘ReliefWeb’ which revealed that between February and April 2024, approximately 415 security incidents were recorded in the LCB. The number of displaced people grew, with internally displaced persons reaching 29 million (an increase of 2% when compared to the previous reporting period) while that of refugees rose to 266,893 (a 4% increase).

While military operations have achieved some level of stability in the region, as observed in the ongoing Multinational Joint Task Force (MJTF) Operation Lake Sanity 2, albeit limited, long-term success requires a multifaceted approach. This can include the fusion of non-kinetic measures like dialogue as a dispute resolution method to address the root cause of extremism. Boko Haram/ISWAP’s ability to adapt to the changing military tactics, like the relocation of fleeing members from one location to another further, underlines the potential for alternative solutions.

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