Maiduguri, a city in north eastern Nigeria, was once regarded as a dangerous stronghold of the Islamist terrorist militia Boko Haram. Now, for the first time since the start of the conflict, an international conference is being held there. On Tuesday (8 May), Ambassador Georg Schmidt, Federal Foreign Office Regional Director for Sub Saharan Africa and the Sahel, opened the conference, which is financed by Germany and brings together Governors from Cameroon, the Niger, Nigeria and Chad.
Multiple crisis factors
The region, where the borders of the four countries converge, is the scene of one of Africa’s biggest humanitarian crises. In the drought hit region in west Africa, which separates the Sahara in the north from the savannah in the south, many different crisis factors exacerbate each other. For eight years, the Islamist Boko Haram group has been terrorising the population: over 30,000 people have been killed and two million men, women and children displaced.
Even though the four countries’ armed forces, working together, have largely succeeded in driving the terrorists back, the people of the Lake Chad region are by no means enjoying peace yet. Kidnappings and suicide attacks continue, and the humanitarian situation remains critical.
Causes can only be tackled through combined efforts
Along with its international partners, Germany has been providing humanitarian assistance to the people in the crisis torn region for many years. In the long term, however, the situation can only improve if the four riparian states work together to tackle the root causes of the crisis. That is why Germany, with other international partners, set up the Consultative Group for Prevention and Stabilisation in the Lake Chad Region.
Developing strategies for stabilisation
The Governors’ Forum in Maiduguri is an important step towards improved cooperation among the neighbouring countries. Together with international partners, Germany is advising and supporting the local decision makers in tackling the crisis even more effectively in future and in developing strategies for stabilisation. The fact that the conference is being held in Maiduguri issues an important signal. Large swathes of the city may still be in ruins. But the population’s gradual return to peaceful everyday life shows that a brighter future for the region is possible.