REGIONAL SECURITY SUMMIT IN NIGERIA
By Franck Felix Gutenberg, US Africa News. Updated 2016-05-21
On Saturday, May 14, 2016, Nigeria hosted the second international summit on the fight against Boko Haram. This summit comes two years after the one held in Paris on May 17, 2014, and which led to the establishment of coordination among several countries affected by the atrocities of Boko Haram, notably between Nigeria (the principal country concerned) and Cameroon. Two years after this meeting, the Islamist terrorist group is still active, despite the deployment of the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) composed of military personnel from Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon, Niger and Benin.
The Nigerian summit was intended to discuss the military operations underway and a rapid resolution of the humanitarian crisis, ultimately leading to an overall strategy to manage the repercussions of the crisis. The summit also focused on evaluating regional action to the threat of Boko Haram, including the adoption of a comprehensive strategy to manage the impact of the crisis on governance, security, development and the socio-economic and humanitarian situations. In addition to representatives from France, Britain, and America, the meeting was attended by representatives from eleven African countries, including neighboring countries of Nigeria (Benin, Cameroon, Chad and Niger), and Federica Mogherini, the chief diplomat of the European Union. The summit is a sign of regional military cooperation and growing international support to end the Boko Haram Islamist insurgency. Already, on the eve of the summit, the UN Security Council underlined the need for a comprehensive strategy to "degrade and defeat" the terrorist group which continues to threaten peace in Africa and has links with Da'esh. This declaration states the strategy must be conducted, "in accordance with applicable international law, as well as enhanced civilian efforts to improve governance and promote economic growth in the affected areas."
The implementation of the Paris resolution in May, 2014 enabled the strengthening of bilateral cooperation between Cameroon and Nigeria, but also multilateral cooperation among all member States of the Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC) and others. The diplomatic rapprochement between Cameroon and Nigeria since the ascension to the presidency Muhammadu Buhari, a year ago, for example, has helped the armies to push back against Boko Haram. This cooperation was reinforced, as a first step, by prioritizing communication between the Nigerian and Cameroonian troops on both sides of the border. Cameroon's artillery was then mobilized to support the operations of the Nigerian army near the border with Cameroon. A further step has been taken since: Cameroonian soldiers have conducted more than a half dozen attacks in Nigerian territory in recent months. No less than a thousand Cameroonian soldiers were mobilized with first-line elements of the elite Rapid Intervention Battalion for these "Arrow" operations in February which enabled the Cameroonians to chase the Islamist insurgents from Goche and Kumché.
President Muhammadu Buhari has assessed the need for 960 million Euros in aid to "eradicate the causes" that "proliferate terrorism". France, which has already allocated 25 million Euros for cooperation with the armies of four countries in the region (Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger) and 17 million Euros for humanitarian aid, has launched a French agency development project specifically in the Lake Chad region.
The head of British diplomacy, Philip Hammond, has promised 40 million pounds in aid (over 57 million Euros), spread over the next four years, to support the fight against terrorism, and said his country will train a thousand Nigerian soldiers. The European Commission, for its part, announced a disbursement of $50 million in funds which have been frozen since July 2015 at the African Union level, in order to support the MNJTF, and further installments over three years of 1.7 billion Euros for humanitarian aid and development programs for affected regions.
The declaration adopted by the Security Council calls on the Economic Community of Central African States and the Economic Community of West African States to redouble efforts to adopt a common strategy against Boko Haram in coordination with the African Union. The states of the Lake Chad Basin area need to coordinate military and security operations against Boko Haram through "national and regional efforts" to bring humanitarian aid to the displaced, to promote the rule of law, to prevent arms trafficking, and to strengthen the protection of civilians. UN agencies are providing assistance. It is true that the spectacular attacks of the Islamic sect have significantly decreased. But Boko Haram continues to cause many casualties, including using suicide attacks, hence the constant military preparedness and redoubling of efforts to definitively eradicate Boko Haram.