What's In Blue

Posted Tue 12 Sep 2017

Lake Chad Basin Briefing

Tomorrow (13 September), Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman is expected to brief the Security Council on the Secretary-General’s 7 September report on the situation in Lake Chad Basin region (S/2017/764). The Council requested the report in resolution 2349, which it adopted on 31 March following its visiting mission to the Lake Chad Basin in early March. Fatima Shehu Imam, the Director of the Civil Society Organisations in Borno State, is also expected to address the Council. Members are expected to make interventions following the briefings.

The Secretary-General’s report provides an update on the security and humanitarian situations in Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria, which have been affected by the Boko Haram insurgency. It further reviews efforts to implement resolution 2349, including support for the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF)—the regional force composed of Lake Chad Basin countries and Benin to combat Boko Haram—as well as UN and broader international efforts to respond to the humanitarian crisis, protect human rights, and tackle root causes of the crisis.

Despite the progress made against Boko Haram, the terrorist group remains a threat, demonstrated by an intensification of attacks since June in north-eastern Nigeria, including an increase in strikes around Maiduguri and on internally displaced persons (IDP) sites. As outlined in the report, the Lake Chad Basin region continues to face large-scale humanitarian needs as a result of the long-running violence associated with Boko Haram. Some 10.7 million people in the region require humanitarian assistance, including 7.2 million people that are food insecure; 5.2 million of whom are in northeast Nigeria and 1.5 million in Cameroon’s Far North region. Feltman may reiterate the observations and recommendations from the Secretary-General’s report, including the importance of a regional plan being developed that seeks to address the crisis’ root causes, “which led to the emergence and sustenance of Boko Haram”. The report notes that the Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC) -consisting of Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria- and the AU are planning to hold a first regional conference in October, which should eventually lead to the development of a strategy.

The session follows the Security Council’s annual consultative meeting with the AU Peace and Security Council (PSC) last week in Addis Ababa in which the Lake Chad Basin crisis was part of the agenda. Both councils have undertaken recent visits to the region, with the PSC having traveled to the Lake Chad Basin region from 27 July to 1 August. There seems to be a shared view on the need for a comprehensive approach to deal with the situation. In addition to resolution 2349’s emphasis on the conflict’s root causes and development needs, the PSC has similarly underlined the importance of addressing the root causes and socio-economic dimensions of the insurgency. Some members tomorrow may stress the importance of mobilising more resources for the humanitarian situation and development needs, which are urgently required according to the Secretary-General, as well as support for the MNJTF that continues to face financial challenges that hamper its operations.

Members can be expected to welcome the initial steps that the LCBC and AU appear to be taking towards developing a regional strategy. This is something that the Council has encouraged the Economic Community of West African States and the Economic Community of Central African States to do over the last two years, but which has not seen significant progress. Among other observations, the Secretary-General’s report notes that funding shortages have limited the UN’s ability to monitor human rights and to support the establishment of national and regional human rights monitoring capacities. Thus some members may highlight the need for resources to be generated in this regard. In addition to the widespread abuses committed by Boko Haram, the Secretary-General’s report notes that serious human rights violations have been reported in the context of counter-terrorism operations of the MNJTF and national forces.

Another issue for members is how the Council can best remain engaged on the crisis. Its adoption of resolution 2349 was the Council’s first resolution on the Boko Haram insurgency in the Lake Chad region despite the brutality and destructiveness of the conflict, which began in 2009. In recent years, the Council has usually been kept informed of the situation through the Secretary-General’s semi-annual reports on the UN Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS) and the UN Regional Office for Central Africa (UNOCA). Resolution 2349 indicated that the Secretary-General should continue to report on developments in the Lake Chad Basin region in these UNOWAS and UNOCA reports. It seems that some members, however, feel that, until there is a breakthrough on the humanitarian crisis and the security situation, the Council should receive more focused reporting on the situation; the possibility of which could be discussed tomorrow.

The Council discussed the conflict’s impact on women and girls last month (10 August) when Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed briefed the Council about this issue following her recent visit to Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (S/PV.8022). Mohamed highlighted Boko Haram’s use of women and girls as suicide bombers and the widespread sexual exploitation of IDPs in northern Nigeria. Such issues are likely to be raised again tomorrow.

For more on the Lake Chad Basin region and Boko Haram, see Security Council Report’s September Monthly Forecast.

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