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Lake Chad Basin

Governors’ Forum: Strong commitments made to eradicate armed extremist groups

6 October 2021
Reading time: 5 minutes

Stabilisation, peacebuilding and sustainable development were among the key issues under discussion at the Third Lake Chad Basin Governors’ Forum, which opened on Monday in Yaoundé, Cameroon.

Eight governors and about 300 stakeholders from Niger, Nigeria, Chad and Cameroon spent two days assessing and analysing the political, civil, security and humanitarian situation in the Lake Chad Basin.

Representatives of national institutions, multilateral partners and civil society participated.

Participants discussed issues of mutual interest, shared experiences, identified key cross-border and regional programmes and policy initiatives, which could stabilise communities affected by the insurgency crisis, caused by vicious and persistent conflicts, first by the Jamā’at Ahl as-Sunnah lid-Da’way Wa’l-Jihād (JAS), more commonly referred to as Boko Haram, and later added to by extremists from the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP).

JAS began terrorising mostly the northeast of Nigeria in 2009 but, in 2015, the insurgency spilt into neighbouring countries in the Lake Chad Basin and was worsened because of escalating vicious attacks not only by JAS but also by members of ISWAP.

The forum, intended to be a platform for dialogue, cooperation and cross-border exchanges, committed to supporting the national, regional and multinational efforts under way and at stabilising the regions of the Far North and North Cameroon, the provinces of Lac and Hadjer-Lamis in Chad, the Diffa region in Niger and the states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe in Nigeria.

Participants at the forum pledged to promote dialogue and cross-border cooperation, to strengthen cross-border security and to facilitate cross-border trade and economic recovery to improve livelihoods.

Cameroon, host country, wants to further support development projects in the sub-region

Cameroon’s Prime Minister Joseph Dion Ngute opened the forum, telling delegates that general mobilisation to meet the needs of the populations affected by the insurgency crisis was now more necessary than ever before.

He told the representatives that Cameroon would support all initiatives geared towards restoring peace and sustainable development in the Lake Chad Basin.

The Lake Chad basin, he said, had been marked by increasing fragility, a scarcity of resources and environmental degradation, as well as low investment in human development.

Ngute said US$ 1 million would be given as initial support from Cameroon to restore peace, development and stability in the region.

Since the breakout of the insurgency in 2009, the region had struggled to curtail the impact of extremist activities, which ranged from massive internal and cross-border displacement, the destruction of social fabric and property, human rights abuses, disrupted public services and limited capacities of government institutions.

The region faced increased vulnerability, a humanitarian crisis with a large number of internally displaced people and refugees.

Ngute said: “It is important, beyond the military approach, to tackle the root causes as well as the consequences of the crisis in the Lake Chad basin.”

Governors call on states to redouble their efforts to eliminate extremist groups

In the final communiqué read at the end of the proceedings, the governors not only praised the efforts made by the Multinational Joint Task Force (FMM) and the national armies in the fight against extremists.

Military cooperation between Cameroon, Chad, Niger, Nigeria and Benin had considerably degraded the resistance force of the jihadists and made it possible to save civilian hostages.

The governors called on the states of the Lake Chad Basin and the security institutions to take strong measures to meet the challenge of the reintegration of defecting members of the extremist groups, by providing the necessary human and material resources.

The said that despite military successes, the JAS and ISWAP remained a permanent threat to countries in the sub-region.

The governors committed to do what they could to rehabilitate the thousands – more than 6,000 – of repentant defectors from extremists groups, mainly the JAS, who had given themselves up to military, security and vigilante groups in the hope that they would be reintegrated into their communities.

  • The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) facilitated the establishment of the Lake Chad Basin Governors’ Forum in May 2018 to ensure regional stabilisation, peace-building and sustainable development.

The forum was formed so that the affected countries would work together to end the insurgency crisis by combining military, security and stabilisation measures to restore state authority, create trust for enhanced cooperation and build meaningful engagement with all affected parties, including addressing the political, social and economic grievances of marginalised communities.

The Regional Stabilisation, Recovery and Resilience Strategy (RSS) was launched and endorsed at the inaugural Governors’ Forum, which acknowledged the critical role of civil society, including women and youth, cross-border trade, reintegration and rehabilitation and the role of regional mechanisms in addressing the root causes of the crisis.

The second Governors’ Forum, in 2019, announced the US$100 million Regional Stabilisation Facility (RSF) to guide the implementation of the RSS.

In the past two years, the RSF has supported governments and affected local authorities to strengthen social contracts and re-establish trust, law and order.

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