Tag Archives: Lake Chad

Ongoing Insecurity in Lake Chad Region Stretches Aid Agencies

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Aid agencies have reported that a series of suicide bombings in Lake Chad in recent months, which have all been blamed on Boko Haram insurgents, has hindered healthcare and aid delivery, effectively leaving tens of thousands of displaced people living in fear of further violence.

In early December, four female suicide bombers attacked the island of Koulfoua, killing at least fifteen people and injuring a further 130 in what is just the latest in a wave of bombings that prompted the Chadian government last month to declare a state of emergency in the Lake Chad region.

While Chad has been instrumental in forcing Boko Haram to cede territory earlier this year, ongoing operations in northeastern Nigeria have effectively forced Boko Haram militants to seek shelter elsewhere. Reports have indicated that while some have used the porous borders to slip into Cameroon, Chad and Niger in a bid to remain safe, experts believe that most militants are hiding on islands located on Lake Chad. The swampy maze of islands in the border areas between Chad, Cameroon, Niger and Nigeria has now become a main target for the militant Islamist group.

According to medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), more than 50,000 people have been forced to leave their homes due to the violence and threat of further attacks, which has hampered the provision of supplies and healthcare to those in need. According to Federica Alberti, MSF head of mission in Chad, “living conditions were already poor and there was a lack of healthcare before the attack, which have left people living in fear,” further adding that “it is challenging to respond in the region because we know more attacks will happen, but do not know when and where, and we can’t go everywhere due to security constraints.” The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has also disclosed that new restrictions aimed at stopping attacks, such as bans on motorised canoes, enforced after the state of emergency was extended until March, have also hindered access for aid agencies.

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) has also disclosed that the violence in the region has disrupted livelihoods including fishing and farming, and has hit cross-border trade and markets, adding that this has left one in ten of those uprooted without enough to eat. According to Mary-Ellen McGroarty, WFP country director for Chad, “we are dealing with a harsh climate and environment in a region which has limited infrastructure and development…it is a humanitarian crisis on top of a development crisis.”

While Lake Chad countries, backed by Benin, have vowed to defeat Bok Haram by using members of an 8,700-strong regional task force, security sources have disclosed that there are growing sings that national armies are instead acting alone.

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Triple Suicide Bombing On Chadian Side of Lake Chad Region

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According to a Chadian security source, a triple suicide bombing on an island in Lake Chad on Saturday killed at least 27 people and left more than eighty wounded in what is another apparent strike carried out by Boko Haram fighters despite an ongoing regional offensive to stop the insurgency.

The source has reported that “three suicide bombers blew themselves up in three different places at the weekly market on Loulou Fou, an Island in Lake Chad,” adding that the explosions had killed 30 people, including the three attackers, and injured more than eighty others. On 9 November, N’Djamena declared a state of emergency in the flashpoint region of Lake Chad, which also straddles Cameroon, Nigeria and Niger and which has been frequently targeted by Nigerian-based Boko Haram fighters, who this year declared allegiance to the so-called Islamic State (IS) group. The decree effectively granted the governor of the remote region the authority to ban the circulation of people and vehicles as well as to search homes and to seize arms. In a statement, the European Union (EU) disclosed that Saturday’s attacks were “a threat to the stability of the country and the region.” The bloc further indicated that it stood ready to “use all available means to help in the fighting against terrorism” in the region. WeDespite the state of emergency in the region, attacks have continued and have proven Boko Haram’s continued desire to carry out deadly attacks despite loosing territory in northeastern Nigeria. In recent months, Boko Haram fighters have stepped up their attacks and suicide bombings on Chadian villages in the lake region that lie close to the frontier with Nigeria. The deadliest attack on the Chadian side of the lake occurred on 10 October. According to officials in N’Djamena, it was another triple suicide that resulted in the deaths of 41 people at Baga Sola. Since the beginning of this year, the Chadian army has been on the frontline of a regional military operation against Boko Haram, whose attacks have spread from northeastern Nigeria to the country’s three Lake Chad neighbors. The joint operation of the four Lake Chad countries, plus Benin, has involved 8,700 soldiers, police and civilians.

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Chad Declares State of Emergency in Boko Haram-hit Region

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The Chadian government announced on Monday that officials have declared a state of emergency in the Lake Chad region in the wake of a series of raids and suicide bombings in the area carried out by Boko Haram insurgents.

According to Chad’s Communications Minister Hassan Sylla Bakari, the order, which will come into effect immediately, will grant authorities new powers to search and monitor residents in the region.

While Chad has been instrumental in forcing Boko Haram earlier this year to cede territory in northeastern Nigeria, which effectively undermined the militant group’s six-year campaign to carve out a Nigerian caliphate, ongoing military operations have forced insurgents out of their strongholds and into the border regions around Lake Chad, where they have continued to launch deadly raids and attacks. On Sunday, at least three people were killed in a Chadian village while three Nigerian refugees were killed on Monday in northern Cameroon.

Chad has not implemented a state of emergency since a series of rebellions in the 2000s, which sprang from its volatile east. Neighbouring Niger has also implemented a three-month state of emergency in its border region of Diffa, which in recent months has also been impacted by Boko Haram violence.

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Boko Haram Captures Army Base

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Officials confirmed Sunday that the militant group Boko Haram has seized control of a town and key multinational military base in northeastern Nigeria, in what appears to be the latest advance by the group to create an Islamic State.

A senator in Borno state confirmed Sunday that troops had abandoned the base, which is located in the town of Baga, after militants attacked the town on Saturday. Residents of Baga, who fled by boat to neighbouring Chad, have disclosed that many people were killed in the attack, adding that the town was later set ablaze. Several residents reported that they had woken to heavy gunfire as militants stormed Baga early on Saturday, attacking from all directions.   Some eyewitnesses disclosed that they had decided to flee after seeing the multi-national troops deserting their posts. Communications with the town remain cut off and exact information about casualty numbers have not been confirmed.

Boko Haram’s takeover of Baga is significant as the town, which was the scene of a Nigerian army massacre in 2013, was the last in the Borno North area still under the government’s control. The town also hosted the base of the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF), which is composed of troops from Nigeria and neighbouring Chad and Niger. Sources have confirmed that the base is now under Boko Haram’s control. The MNJTF was set up in 1998 and tasked to fight trans-border crime in the Lake Chad region. Most recently, the task force was charged with combatting Boko Haram.

Over the past month, Boko Haram has intensified its attacks on towns and villages, carrying out almost daily attacks. The militant group has also launched several mass kidnappings, taking captive hundreds, including young boys and girls. Many believe that the militant group is attempting to replenish its ranks as its aims to solidify its grip on the areas of northeastern Nigerian already under its control. The Nigerian military, which includes Western advisers and surveillance, has been incapable of dealing with the growing problem, which is now rapidly transforming into a region-wide threat. Nigeria’s home-grown Boko Haram group has begun regionalizing the conflict, launching a several attacks across the border into Cameroon in recent weeks.


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