On 13 September, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman briefed 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.
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.
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1. The present report is submitted pursuant to Security Council resolution 2349 (2017) of 31 March 2017, in which the Council requested the Secretary-General to produce a written report within five months on the assessment by the United Nations of the situation in the Lake Chad Basin. The report provides an update on the progress made and the challenges remaining and suggests measures for consideration relating to elements of the resolution.
II. Major developments in the Lake Chad Basin region
A. Security developments and trends
2. The regional military offensive, led by the Multinational Joint Task Force and the national armies of Cameroon, Chad, the Niger and Nigeria, achieved considerable gains in the fight against Boko Haram. Following the recapture of the Sambisa Forest in December 2016, a large number of Boko Haram terrorists, including a notorious commander, Abu Nazir, were reportedly neutralized in Jarawa, Borno State, Nigeria. Several weapons were captured from the group, and abducted children undergoing training were liberated. On 6 May 2017, 82 girls who had been captured by Boko Haram in Chibok village in 2014 were released. Nigerian authorities recently arrested 126 suspected Boko Haram terrorists, who had reportedly infiltrated the Damboa camp of internally displaced persons as part of a plan to attack the town. However, the Task Force continued to face financial challenges that hampered its operations, including in relation to intelligence-sharing, logistics, in particular of medical evacuations, and equipment.
3. Boko Haram continued, however, to pose a significant threat to civilian populations in Nigeria, Cameroon, the Niger and Chad. From April to June 2017, 246 attacks were recorded, resulting in the deaths of 225 civilians. Boko Haram increasingly resorted to suicide attacks, which appears to be symptomatic of their diminished combat capacity. In June, 13 suicide attacks were recorded, resulting in the deaths of 67 civilians. This was a notable increase from May, when 17 civilians were killed as a result of 10 reported suicide attacks. The group sustained its targeting of military positions, and 30 such attacks were recorded in April, 9 in May and 12 in June. In addition, Boko Haram resorted to looting, raids and incursions into villages in search of basic goods in anticipation of the rainy season.
4. During the celebrations of Eid al-Fitr in June, Boko Haram staged multiple attacks in Maiduguri, Nigeria, and surrounding areas, including on 7 June, when at least 13 people were killed. On 24 July, suspected Boko Haram elements carried out suicide attacks in two internally displaced persons camps near Maiduguri, reportedly killing at least eight people. On 25 July, Boko Haram ambushed an oil exploration team in the Magumeri area of Borno State, reportedly killing more than 50 people.
5. In Cameroon, the Abu Musab al-Barnawi faction of Boko Haram continued its activities in the Far North region and, as a result of such attacks, the number of civilian fatalities more than doubled in May and June, from 11 to 24. On 2 June, the group announced its intention to attack Kousséri in order to free a number of its leaders held in detention, leading local authorities to transfer the detained persons to Maroua. The control of cross-border movements of population and goods between Nigeria and Chad remained extremely challenging. Boko Haram’s armed incursions and multiple suicide attacks were conducted in villages away from areas of major military operations.
6. In the Niger, Boko Haram’s activities were focused in the Diffa region. On 10 April, Boko Haram carried out a major attack against a security and defence force point close to Gueskerou, resulting in the deaths of 57 Boko Haram members and injuries to 13 troops and civilians. On 28 June, two suicide bombers attacked the Kabelawa camp for internally displaced persons, killing two camp residents. On 2 July, Boko Haram elements attacked Ngalewa, killing 9 civilians and kidnapping 37 persons, including 24 women and 13 children.
7. In Chad, attacks attributed to Boko Haram and military movements in the northern basin caused the displacement of close to 2,000 people, who fled their villages around Tchoukoutalia following the attack of 5 May in Kaiga Kindjiria. Recurrent waves of suicide attacks by suspected Boko Haram elements in northern Cameroon heightened concern about the potential for the group to carry out similar attacks further north, in N’Djamena, despite the deployment of additional forces by the Government.
8. From 27 July to 1 August, the Peace and Security Council of the African Union visited the countries of the Lake Chad Basin region, to collect more information on the operations of the Multinational Joint Task Force, the impact of the crisis and the humanitarian situation.