Consideration of the Renewal of the Mandate of MNJTF

Lack Chad Region

Date | 14 January, 2022

Tomorrow (14 January), the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) will convene its 1057th session to consider the renewal of the mandate of the Multi-National Joint Task Force (MNJTF).

Permanent Representative of Ghana, Amma A. Twum-Amoah, is expected to make opening statement as the Chair of the PSC for the month of January. The Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS), Bankole Adeoye, is expected to introduce the report of the Chairperson of the Commission on the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) against the Boko Haram terrorist group. The new Force Commander of the MNJTF, Maj.-Gen. Abdul-Khalifah Ibrahim, who assumed the position in August 2021 is scheduled to deliver a presentation. The representatives of Ghana and Gabon are also expected to make statements as the chair of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), respectively.

This session is convened in light of the impending expiry of MNJTF’s mandate at the end of January—PSC last renewed MNJTF’s mandate on January 2021 during its 973rd session. Apart from mandate renewal, this session affords the Council the opportunity to receive update on the activities of the MNJTF pursuant to the relevant provisions of the Communiqué PSC/AHG/ COMM.2 (CDLXXXIV) of 29 January 2015. Among others, the update is expected to highlight the achievements and challenges of MNJTF since its last mandate renewal.

On the achievements, the MNJTF has made progress in discharging its mandate against Boko Haram and its offshoot, the Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP). One notable success over the last one year is the ‘spate of insurgents surrender’ as a result of MNJTF’s kinetic and non-kinetic measures. Some 3,600 militants reportedly surrendered between August and October of last year. Military operations by the Taskforce also eliminated several jihadist militants and seized weapons and equipment. In the recent operation code-named ‘Sharan Fague’, which was carried out last December in Malam Fatori of Borno State of Nigeria, around 22 Boko Haram terrorists were neutralized, according to a statement by the Spokesperson of the Task force. According to the report of the Chairperson of the Commission on MNJTF, ‘over 160 Boko Haram terrorist fighters were neutralized while about 130 others were arrested’. Another notable success highlighted by the report is MNJTF’s success in dislodging the terrorist group from all population centers, which are now contained in their enclaves within the Lake Chad Islands (Tumbuns).

MNJTF’s military operations have improved security situation in some of the affected areas in the Lake Chad Basin, paving the way for internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees to return home. This was the case in the town of Baroua, Diffa region of Southeast Niger, where close to 6,000 IDPs who fled Boko Haram violence years ago reportedly returned home last June. In August 2021, same number of IDPs of Cross kauwa, Baga and Doron Baga of Borno State, Nigeria, also returned to their homes.

A bitter infight between Boko Haram and ISWAP inflicted considerable loss to both of them in 2021. Boko Haram’s longtime leader, Abubakar Shekau, was reported dead in May 2021 after his base in Sambisa forest was overrun by its splinter group, ISWAP. This triggered defections to the government forces and in some cases to the ISWAP faction. In October of the same year, Nigerian army also announced the death of ISWAP leader Abu Musab al-Barnawi. It is believed that the deadly rivalry between the two factions creates window of opportunity for the Taskforce to intensify its military engagement against the terrorist groups and degrade their operational capacity.

Despite MNJTF’s success, both Boko Haram and ISWAP are still potent threat that showed resilience despite the setback they sustained. According to the latest report of the Chairperson of the AU Commission on ‘continental efforts in the prevention and combating of terrorism in Africa’, Boko Haram staged 33 attacks leading to 175 deaths during the first half of 2021. Though this marks a reduction as compared to 2020 (59 attacks and 375 deaths), Boko Haram remained the most lethal terrorist group in Africa with an average of 5.3 deaths per attack.

Tomorrow’s session is also expected to discuss some of the challenges that the MNJTF is currently facing. One major challenge likely to be highlighted in this regard is the increasing use of technologies such as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) by Boko Haram (PSC flagged this particular concern during its 816th and 973rd sessions). The use of drone by the terrorist group was first reported in November 2018 when Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari announced the development during a meeting of troop contributing countries to the MNJTF. The influx of affiliated foreign terrorist fighters who bring with them technical skills in customizing the widely available commercial drones (hobby drones) helped Boko Haram and other non-state actors in Africa to include drones in their repertoires. Currently, Boko Haram’ use of this technology is limited to surveillance and reconnaissance operations. But, as the Chairperson of the Commission cautioned in his latest report on terrorism in Africa, ‘it is only a question of time before these [terrorist] groups adopt weaponized-drones into their Modus Operandi’. Against this context, it is imperative that the MNJTF and countries in the Lake Chad Basin have a strategy to counter the emerging threat.

The other challenge is the capability gaps within the MNJTF. In the previous session on the MNJTF, the Council requested the AU Commission to mobilise support, particularly through the provision for ‘Counter Improvised Explosive Devices (C-IED) equipment, Amphibious Equipment, counter drone equipment, force protection vehicles, surveillance equipment, and Intelligence, Surveillance Reconnaissance (ISR) services’. The presentations from Bankole and the force commander Ibrahim may highlight developments in this regard including the provision of Air Mobility assets, Command-Control-Communication and Information System (C3IS), and boats to enhance amphibious capability. Bankole may also speak about the financial support provided by the European Union (EU) to the Task force through the AU. The report of the Chairperson indicates that EU availed 18.9 million Euros for 2021. The EU increased the amount for this year to 20 million Euros. In light of the growing number of terrorist surrenders, Bankole may also highlight the Commission’s support to the MNJTF in ensuring compliance to regional and international human rights and humanitarian law.

Member states of the Lake Chad Basin are also facing mounting security challenges other than from Boko Haram/ISWAP. The rising herder-farmer conflict and armed bandit attacks (the latest attack this month claimed over 200 lives) in Nigeria; growing jihadist insurgency in Niger along its borders with Mali and Burkina Faso; the incursion of mercenaries and foreign fighters from Libya into Chad are cases in point. Unless more resource is channeled to support the MNJTF’s counter terrorism operations, national governments of the region may have to shift attention towards addressing other security threats.

Lack of coordination in the area of joint planning and information sharing between different sectors of the MNJTF, limited LCBC’s political control over the Force, as well as lack of sustainable funding remain the other challenges affecting the effectiveness of the MNJTF.

The expected outcome of tomorrow’s session is a communique. The PSC is expected to commend the gains made by the MNJTF over Boko Haram. However, the Council may express its concern over the continued security threat posed by the terrorist groups and some of the worrying trends such as Boko Haram’s use of drones for surveillance and reconnaissance operations. The Council is also expected to take note of the challenges that the MNJTF is currently facing. In this regard, it may urge member states of the LCBC plus Benin and international partners to redouble efforts in addressing capability gaps and funding constraint, as well as issues related to effective coordination in the areas of operation planning and information sharing. The Council may follow up on its previous request of the Commission to renew the ‘Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and Support Implementation Agreement (SIA) between AU, LCBC and MNJTF TCCs in support of MNJTF operations’. Furthermore, on account of the transboundary nature of Boko Haram’s threat, the Council may call on the two regional blocs ECOWAS and ECCAS to enhance horizontal cooperation and coordination. In light of the prevailing security situation in the Lake Chad Basin, the Council is expected to renew MNJTF’s mandate for another one year effective 1 February 2022.

Briefing on the Implementation of the Stabilization Strategy for the Lake Chad Basin

Lack Chad Region

Date | 19 July, 2021

Tomorrow (19 July) African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) will convene its 1010th session to receive briefing on the implementation of the Stabilization Strategy for the Lake Chad Basin.

Following the opening remarks of the Chairperson of the PSC, Victor Adenkunle Adeleke, the AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS), Bankole Adeoye is expected to brief the council on the strategy, focusing on the contributions of the AU. The Executive Secretary of the Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBS) and Head of the MNJTF, Mamman Nuhu is also expected to make a presentation. The Representatives of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the four states of the LCBC plus Benin may also deliver statements.

While the PSC considered the last time the situation in the Lake Chad Basin in the context of its consideration of the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) at its 973rd meeting, it was during the 816th session that the PSC endorsed the Regional Strategy for the Stabilization, Recovery & Resilience of the Boko Haram-affected Areas of the Lake Chad Basin Region (RSS).

Coming not long after the second meeting of the Steering Committee of the RSS convened virtually on 29 June 2021 in which the AU Commissioner for PAPS, Executive Secretary of the LCBC, Force Commander of the MNJTF, and representatives from the Governor’s Offices took part and reviewed the 2020 progress report by the RSS Secretariat and Regional Task Force, tomorrow’s session is also expected to evaluate the state of implementation of the strategy since its inception in 2019.

The strategy, endorsed by the PSC, is the culmination of collaborative work that brought together the LCBC, affected countries and the AU based on the recognition of the need for a comprehensive approach that goes beyond military action and encompass development efforts for addressing the root causes of terrorism and violent extremism. The strategy is articulated around nine pillars and 40 strategic objectives designed to address the short, medium and long-term needs of the region towards stabilization, resilience and recovery of the affected areas. It has a five years duration divided into two phases: the first- year inception phase (2019) and the implementation phase.

The PSC expects to receive update on the institutionalization of the RSS that set the stage for stabilization efforts to take place at territorial level, which remains the main priority of the medium and long-term implementation phase of the RSS. This includes the establishment and/or strengthening of the RSS Secretariat, the Steering Committee, the Regional Task Force, the Governors’ Forum, Civil Society platform, and the LCBC-MNJTF’s Civil- Military Cooperation (CIMIC) Cell.

The RSS Secretariat has become fully operational with the recruitment of the required staff. The development of the Regional Action Plan for the years 2020-2021, which provides strategic direction for regional actions, is now in place after its validation by the LCBC and the AU Commission last year.

The Steering Committee—a key platform for review, decision-making, and strategic direction for the RSS—held its 2nd meeting virtually on 29 June involving the participation of key stakeholders including AU Commissioner for PAPS. One of the positive outcomes of that meeting has been its decision to expand the composition of the steering committee to include relevant national authorities and entities responsible for stabilization, recovery and resilience initiatives. Relevant ministries of the four countries and the Office of the Special Coordinator for Development in the Sahel (UNISS), the African Development Bank and the Civil Society Platform are now made part of the committee. It is worth noting that the Committee is co-chaired by the LCBC and AU Commission.

The Regional Task Force, established in April 2020 and composed of technical experts appointed by organisations and entities working in the area of stabilisation, resilience, and recovery, is instrumental in enhancing the technical coordination of the pillars of intervention at the regional level. Some 30 institutions and organisations are represented in the taskforce under the leadership of the RSS Secretariat.

The establishment of RSS civil society platform is also a significant step forward. Given the critical importance of this structure for the participation of affected communities and religious and community leaders as well as women and youth and for the implementation of the RSS at the territorial level, the strength and capacity of the platform is critical.

It is also to be recalled that the Governor’s Forum was established in 2018. This platform is considered as the ‘principal custodian’ of the strategy’s implementation given its unique position to drive the implementation of the RSS at the territorial level and to coordinate joint actions of the eight affected territories of Cameroon, Chad, Nigeria and Niger. The Forum reports to the Steering Committee and advice the latter on progress of implementation of the strategy. It is to be recalled that the first and second forum were held in May 2018 (Nigeria) and July 2019 (Niger). The third edition of the meeting was supposed to take place last year in Cameroon, but rescheduled for this October due to the pandemic.

One of the major outcomes expected from the upcoming meeting of Governor’s Forum is the consideration of the Territorial Action Plans (TAPs)—comprising the set of interventions and actions tailored to local needs of the affected areas.

Implementation Organogram (Source: RSS)

The development of TAPs is a critical step towards the implementation of the strategy at the territorial level, though it still awaits endorsement by the relevant authorities of the four countries before its consideration in the upcoming Governors’ Forum in October. The governors of the respective eight affected territories are responsible for preparing and harmonizing these plans with local and national development plans.

Another major step taken towards the operationalization of the RSS is the establishment of the joint LCBC-MNJTF CIMIC Cell. The CIMIC Cell serves the important role of ensuring that the planning and conduct of the MNJTF is anchored on the protection of civilians and for coordinating the activities of the MNJTF with humanitarian actors and build trust with affected communities. The Cell has played an important role in reinforcing the capacity of the MNJTF by facilitating trainings and workshops for newly deployed personnel on human rights and humanitarian law.

Of particular interest to the Council is the state of resource mobilization needed for the implementation of the strategy. It is worth noting in this regard that the UNDP supports the implementation of the strategy at national and regional levels through its funding facility, the Regional Stabilisation Facility (RSF).

In relation to specific support to the MNJTF, EU’s financial contribution of 60 million Euros (20 million through AU and the rest to be managed by EU) to support the MNJTF for 2021 is a welcome development. This is in addition to the logistical support including Air Mobility Service, Command- Control-Communication and Information System service, as well as covering allowances and salaries to civilian staff of the joint force. While this logistical support will have great importance in addressing some of the capability gaps of the joint force, other capability gaps such as Counter Improvised Explosive Devices (C-IED) equipment, counter drone equipment, and Surveillance Reconnaissance (ISR) services are yet to be filled.

In terms of challenges, such participative structures as the private sector investment platform and inter parliamentary forum are yet to be realized. Additionally, given the cross-border nature and complex structures and mechanisms of the strategy, another challenge is coordination of the plethora of stakeholders involved in security, humanitarian, stabilization, and development efforts across regional, national and territorial levels. There is also the coordination issue between the LCBC and the G5 Sahel with the overlapping membership in case of Niger and Chad.

The other challenge is the volatile security situation of the affected areas. For example, in Borno State of Nigeria, one of the eight targeted territories for the implementation of the RSS, 19 percent of the territory remains ‘either totally or mainly inaccessible to both state and humanitarian actors because of insecurity’. Security challenge is also one factor hindering cross- border interactions in the sub-region.

There is also the issue of the dominance of the MNJTF and national security troops as the principal instruments of the regional and national strategies in the region. The result is that much of the resources are diverted to security responses. Given that the member states of LCBC are primarily responsible for the implementation of the RSS, the latter’s success largely depends on the political will of member states.

The expected outcome is a communique. The Council may underscore the centrality of the implementation of the RSS in addressing the crisis caused by Boko Haram insurgency. Regarding the progress in the implementation of the strategy, the PSC is likely to express its satisfaction over the successful operationalization of the strategy with the establishment of governance and coordination structures, and may call for expediting the establishment of remaining structures. The Council is also likely to welcome the development of the Regional Action plan for 2020-2021 as well as the TAPs, and may encourage stakeholders to align their engagements in accordance with these plans. The Council may stress that the success of the strategy requires a sustained financial, technical and political support and collaboration at all levels, and it may particularly emphasize the imperative of national ownership and political will towards the implementation of the strategy. The PSC may also invite the utilization of AU’s Post Conflict Reconstruction and Development Centre to support the implementation of the strategy, including through supporting the financing and implementation of quick impact projects identified by the affected countries and the various structures of the RSS. On the challenges, the Council is expected to urge the multiple actors involved at regional, national and local level to harmonize and coordinate their actions across the development, peace and security spectrum with the view to minimize duplication of efforts and maximize their contribution towards the full realization of the strategy. The Council is also expected to express its grave concern over the continued security threat imposed by Boko Haram and its splinter, the Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP) and its implication on the implementation of the RSS despite gains achieved by the MNJTF. In this regard, the Council may call on troop-contributing countries to strengthen their collaboration, and further urge the AU, EU and other partners to step up their financial and logistical support in order to sustain and enhance the capability of the multinational force.

Consideration of the Report of the Chairperson of the Commission on the activities of the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) and renewal of mandate

Lack Chad Region

Date | 18 January, 2021

Tomorrow (January 18) the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) is expected to hold its 973rd session to consider the Report of the Chairperson of the AU Commission on the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) and the European Union (EU)-AU support to the Force. The PSC is also expected to renew the mandate of the MNJTF. The session will take place through VTC.

The chair of the month Senegal is expected to make opening remarks. The Peace and Security Department (PSD) is expected to provide a brief to the Council on the activities of MNJTF. The representative of the Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC) and Head of the MNJTF may also deliver statements.

Representatives of member states of LCBC plus Benin and the EU are also expected to make statements.

The last time the PSC convened a session on Lake Chad region was during its 898th meeting held on 28 November 2019 where the Council, among others, renewed the mandate of the MNJTF until 31 January 2020; requested the Commission to make efforts towards mobilizing more additional support for the Task Force in filling its regional capability gaps and humanitarian support; as well as regularly update the Council on the situation in the region. As a follow-up session, the report of the Chairperson is expected to highlight the recent developments in the region, and provide update on the activities of the MNJTF since the last session.

This session comes against the backdrop of intensified militant attacks that continued to ravage the Lake Chad region, including the gruesome attacks in Niger, Nigeria and Chad. Chairperson’s report is expected to capture the recent bouts of violence unleashed by Boko Haram and other militant groups, reflecting the continued threat to the peace and security of the region despite the significant gain made by MNJTF and member states of the LCBC plus Benin in the fight against the former.

The latest in a series of attacks is the deadly violence that hit villages of southwestern Niger near the Malian border on January 2, reportedly killing 100 people. This came less than a month after the attack attributed to Boko Haram targeting Niger’s Diffa region that left at least 27 civilians dead and 800 homes burned. Boko Haram also continued to wreak havoc in Nigeria’s restive Borno state and beyond over the course of 2020. On December 11, gunmen stormed boys school located in Kankara (Nigeria’s northwestern Katsina State) and abducted around 110 boys whose release was secured later on. One of the deadliest attack yet unleashed in November when suspected Boko Haram militants massacred more than 110 farmers in a village near Borno’s capital Maiduguri, not to mention its ambush in northern Yobe state in March killing at least 50 soldiers. Chad has not been spared by the militant’s attack- close to 100 Chadian soldiers were killed in March in Lac province, which is one of the hotspots of Boko Haram’s insurgency bordering Niger and Nigeria.

Tomorrow’s session is also expected to pay greater heed to the structural problems prevailing in Lake Chad region. A shift from short-term military operations towards a long-term development measures that would address the root causes of instability is required to achieve sustainable peace in the region. The PSC highlighted this issue in its previous meeting by stressing the importance of addressing ‘political, social and developmental challenges affecting the region, including food insecurity exacerbated by the shrinking water resources of the Lake Chad’. Similarly, the UN Security Council, in its resolution 2349 (2017), called upon governments in the region to take measures to address ‘social, political, economic and gender inequalities, and environmental challenges’, placing the focus on the root causes of the crisis.

It was also in recognition of the need to bring a shift from military engagements towards tackling root causes of the crisis that the AUC, LCBC and development partners devised a Regional Stabilization Strategy (RSS) in 2017, endorsed by the PSC during its 816th session held on December 5, 2018. The RSS seeks to bring stabilization, resilience and recovery of the affected areas of the four countries around Lake Chad basin, namely Cameroon, Chad, Niger, and Nigeria. In this context, the PSC is expected to receive updates on the progresses made towards the implementation of the different pillars outlined in the strategy.

One development that would interest the PSC members in this respect could be the recent World Bank initiative, which rolled out two projects worth of $346 million in May 2020 that aimed at strengthening resilience and livelihoods in the Lake Chad region. The Council may also take note of the various projects of United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) undertaken in the affected areas of the Lake Chad basin under it’s the Regional Stabilization Facility (RSF) – an initiative launched by UNDP in 2019 with the support of Germany, Sweden, UK and EU to facilitate the implementation of RSS. The briefing by the PSD may further elaborate on the implementation of the RSS through the RSF including the construction of infrastructure and provision of basic services to communities.

Given PSC’s call for developing communication strategies that would enable to win the hearts and minds of the people of Lake Chad region during its 898th session, the recent regional workshop organized by MNJTF and the LCBC, in collaboration with UNDP, held at N’Djamena in October 2020 would likely interest PSC members. Featuring high profile speakers and drawing attendants from wide spectrum of stakeholders, the 5-day workshop was meant to provide a foundation for an inclusive regional communication strategy aimed at countering radical narratives propagated by extremist groups as well as discouraging sympathy and support to the latter.

Another issue likely to feature in the PSC’s discussion is the deteriorating humanitarian situation in the region, a concern also reiterated by the UN Security Council during its February 11 presidential statement on the conditions in Sahel and Lake Chad Basin., The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in its briefing December 15 painted a gloomy picture of the humanitarian crisis unfolding in the region and the huge financial gaps to respond to the crisis. According to the briefing, the violence in Lake Chad displaced 2.9 million internally and forced some 300,000 people to flee violence as refugees. Only 52 percent of the required $126.3 million fund has been secured thus far. The situation is further exacerbated by the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. This was particularly highlighted during the Ambassadorial-level meeting of the Peacebuilding Commission on the impact of Covid-19 in the Lake Chad Basin held on September 9. The meeting, among others, noted the impact of Covid-19 in compounding the security and humanitarian situation of the Lake Chad and its disproportionate effects on women and girls.

The PSC is also expected to receive a briefing on the EU-AU support to the MNJTF through the African Peace Facility. The briefing is expected to highlight the activities undertaken in in the first phase support, which ended in December 2020, and the activities that will be included in the second phase that will run from January to December 2021. The briefing may also present the challenges that the MNJTF continues to face in conducting its operation.

The expected outcome is a communiqué. The PSC may commend the MNJTF, LCBC member states and Benin for their efforts and progresses achieved in the fight against Boko Haram. The Council may express its concern over the continued security threat and the deteriorating humanitarian situation. In this regard, the Council may once again urge the Commission, LCBC member states plus Benin, RECs, and international partners to enhance their efforts in terms of supporting MNJTF’s capability as well as mobilizing the required resources that would enable the regional force to effectively respond to the security threats. The PSC is also likely to reiterate the need to adopt comprehensive approach in countering Boko Haram and the importance of tackling the root causes of violence that keeps providing fodder for Boko Haram and other extremists in the region. The Council may further call upon member states, sub-regional, regional and international organizations, donors and other stakeholders to step-up their efforts in the realization of the regional stabilization strategy that seeks to bring stabilization, recovery and resilience of the Boko Haram affected areas.

The PSC may commend the EU for the continued support to the MNJTF. Given the increasing attacks perpetrated by Boko Haram and the need to sustain combat operations by the regional force, the PSC may decide to renew the mandate of MNJTF for another 12 months.

Consideration of the MNJTF Mandate Renewal

Lack Chad Region

Date | 28 November, 2019

Tomorrow (28 November) the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) is expected to hold a session on the security situation in the Lake Chad Basin region and to consider the mandate renewal of the Multi‐ National Joint Task Force (MNJTF).

The representative of the Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC) is expected to brief the Council. LCBC member states as well as Benin are also expected to deliver their statements. The AU Department of Peace and Security (PSD) and UNOAU representative may also make an intervention.

It is to be recalled that the PSC at its 816th session has renewed the mandate of the MNJTF for 12 month effective from 31 January 2019. The communique LCBC requested the LCBC Secretariat to provide biannual briefing on the implementation of the Regional Strategy for the Stabilization. It is to be recalled that the LCBC briefed the PSC at its 838th session in April 2019 and the Council called for a ‘comprehensive and rapid implementation of the Regional Strategy’. As a follow up to this, it is also expected that the LCBC presents an update on the implementation of the strategy. The Strategy, drawn up with the support of the AU PSD as part of post conflict reconstruction and development work, was adopted by the LCBC member states on 30 August 2018 and later on 5 December 2018 by the PSC.

It is expected that the briefing is to provide highlights of the activities that were undertaken since the last PSC session on the matter. The LCBC briefing may include the outcome of the second meeting of the Lake Chad Basin Governors’ Forum held in Niamey, from 17‐18 July 2019. The meeting, which brought together eight regions of the Lake Chad Basin countries affected by Boko Haram primarily aimed at enhancing cross‐border cooperation and the implementation of the Regional Strategy. One of the key outcomes was the pledge made by donors where they committed around 60 million USD to the establishment of a stabilization facility that will coordinate the implementation of the Strategy. The PSC may request an update regarding the establishment of the facility as well as the practical measures taken in implementing the Strategy.

In accelerating the implementation of the Regional Strategy, the PSC may also recall its previous decision, which tasked the AU Commission to support the LCBC secretariat to ‘develop a clear roadmap for the implementation of the strategy’, a resource mobilization strategy and the convening of a solidarity conference under the Africa Solidarity Initiative. The statement by the PSD may provide details on the support provided and on the remaining tasks.

The briefing may make reference to the 2020‐2024 eight‐ point action plan in combatting and eradiation terrorism adopted at the ECOWAS extraordinary summit in Ouagadougou on 14 September 2019. It is expected that the mandate renewal will consider the priority areas that were identified by the ECOWAS meeting which range from coordination, training, financing and dialogue. The action plan, which is expected to serve as resource mobilization tool is expected to be finalized and adopted at the ECOWAS ordinary session on 21 December 2019. The framework may also offer guidance for the PSC in assessing not only the military operation of the MNJTF but also in examining the deliverables against the comprehensive set priority areas in the Regional Strategy.

The MNJTF has recorded operational successes in many of the offensives undertaken in the region including the liberation of occupied territories and in reducing the capabilities of the group. But various factors continue to enable proliferation of terrorist groups in the wider region. It is reported that new members coming from Libya and Syria have joined the ranks of terrorist groups in the region including North East Nigeria.

Despite the success the MNJTF registered, the insurgency remains to be capable of orchestrating attacks and providing support for other groups. The UN Secretary General Report on West Africa and the Sahel indicates that in the first six months of 2019, ‘despite counter‐terrorism efforts, the “Islamic State West Africa Province” faction of Boko Haram expanded its area of operations’. The armed group continued to use suicide bombers against civilians and security and defence forces. Between January and April alone 189 terrorist attacks took place in the northern states of Nigeria, resulting in 453 deaths and 201 kidnappings.

In a dangerous development, the group has increased the use of suicide vehicle‐borne improvised explosive devices (IED) against national security forces and the MNJTF in the countries of the Lake Chad region. In the past six‐month there has also been renewed attacks on army deployments and civilians.
It is also critical for tomorrow’s session to not only highlight the military efforts that aim at addressing immediate security concerns but also to ensure that there is adequate deliberation on addressing root causes and restoring sustainable peace, which are key elements identified in the Regional Stabilization Strategy. Indeed, the presidential statement of the 8592nd meeting of the UN Security Council, held on 7 August 2019, underlined ‘the need for security efforts to be aligned with political objectives, to enable the restoration of civilian security, the establishment of effective governance to deliver essential services, and the revival of local economies to provide livelihood opportunities for surging youth populations’. These are also key elements identified in the Regional Strategy. The upsurge of terrorist groups in the region have added urgency to the imperative of enhancing national ownership and prioritizing political strategies, notably active and sustained engagement of national leaders in the affected areas and strengthening state institutions and bolstering the legitimacy of local structures of government in those areas and others susceptible to penetration of terrorist groups.

The expected outcome is a communiqué. The PSC may commend the LCBC member states and Benin in their counter‐terrorism efforts. It may welcome the outcome of the meeting of the Lake Chad Basin Governors’ Forum on the implementation of the Regional Strategy. It may call for increased efforts in realizing the objectives of the Strategy. It may task the AUC to support member states in developing implementation tools to monitor and track progress by also aligning it with the 2020‐2024 ECOWAS counter‐terrorism action plan. It may also reiterate the need for the convening of a solidarity conference. The PSC could also express concern on the volatile security situation in the region despite the sustained efforts of the MNJTF and may in this regard urge the prioritization of political processes that facilitate the enhancement of legitimate structures of governance at the local levels and the delivery of social services. Considering the political and security developments in the region, it may renew the mandate of the force for another 12 months.

Briefing on the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF)

Lack Chad Region

Date | 5 December, 2018

Tomorrow (5 December) the Peace and Security Council of the African Union (AU) will receive the Report of the Chairperson of the AU Commission on the situation in the Lake Chad Basin and on the renewal of the mandate of the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF). The PSD is expected to make a statement introducing the report. The representatives of the Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC) and representative of the troop contributing countries (TCC) of the MNJTF Cameroon, Chad, Niger, Nigeria and Benin are expected to participate.

The session will examine the security situation and operational capabilities and future mandates of the task force, which the PSC has described at its 702nd meeting held on 19 July 2017 as ‘a reference model of multinational cooperation that could serve positively other regions in Africa and beyond to address similar security challenges’. The session also presents an opportunity for the PSC to be updated about the regional strategy for the stabilization, recovery and resilience of the Boko Haram affected areas of the Lake Chad Basin region jointly developed by the AU and the LCBC.

There have been significant developments in the situation in the Boko Haram affected areas since the PSC renewed the mandate of the MNJTF at its 738th meeting held on 7 December 2017. The briefing is happening against the backdrop of rise in Boko Haram attempts at orchestrating attacks.
The past years saw significant reduction in the capabilities and territorial scope of Boko Haram operations following series of coordinated military campaigns by the MNJTF and the security forces of the individual members of the LCBC. The campaigns degraded the military capacity of the group, weakened its economic and recruitment base and pushed it out from its strongholds. Boko Haram was forced to abandon its seizure of territories.

Yet, as the Chairperson’s report notes Boko Haram remains a serious threat. Operating in a decentralized arrangement based on semi- autonomous groups, it has resorted to relying heavily on asymmetric guerilla and suicide attacks on isolated locations, soft civilian targets like markets, religious spaces and public gatherings.

Additionally, over the past months an upward trend in the activity of the terrorist group has been observed. There were more than 17 attempts by the group to overrun army bases since July 2018, and on 29 November 2018, the Nigerian army announced recent attacks by the Boko Haram killed 39 soldiers in northeast Nigeria. According to the statement of the Nigerian army reased use of drones ‘in the last two to three months, we have noticed daring moves by the terrorists, (involving) increased use of drones against our defensive positions and infusion of foreign fighters in their ranks.’

These dangerous developments prompted President Muhammadu Buhari, Chairperson of the Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC), to convene meeting of the LCBC on 29 November at the headquarters of the LCBC in N’djamena, Chad. The meeting examined measures to enhance the capacity of the MNJTF to address the recent setbacks, and permanently neutralize the notorious group.

The report will also examine the progress made in the implementation of the Renewed Support Implementation Agreement (SIA) and the Memorandum of Understanding between the AU Commission and the MNJTF TCCs for streamlining the AU additional support to MNJTF and the renewed Concept of Operations (CONOPs). At it’s meeting on 7 December 2017, the PSC requested the commission to assist the MJNTF to fill its capability gaps. Tomorrow’s meeting will provide update on the efforts of the AUC to support the MNJTF in filling some of the gaps in its capabilities. In this respect, attention would be drawn to the delivery of various materials including level III medical services and financial contribution for implementing quick impact projects. Other challenges include the use and implementation of effective strategy for promoting surrender of Boko Haram fighters and for the handling of surrendered and/or captured Boko Haram fighters.

In the light of the rise in the threat from Boko Haram activities and as a follow up to the LCBC summit, tomorrow’s session will review the challenges facing the MNJTF. In this respect, the persisting gaps in the capability of the MNJTF as highlighted in the Chairperson’s report will receive particular attention. These gaps include lack of Counter-Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) equipment, lack of effective and robust communication strategy, and lack of more robust maritime capabilities to enhance MNJTF mobile operations in and around the Lake Chad.

Although not the main focus of the report, reference is made to the dire humanitarian situation in Boko Haram affected areas. As noted in the report, over 20 million people in the affected areas are exposed to acute need of humanitarian assistance. Of these 2.4 million people consisting of IDPs, refugees and returnees, all with about 490,000 children, are under threat of severe malnutrition. Continued attacks by the terrorist group have resulted in additional displacements, further exacerbating an already dire situation.

Also of note is the impact of the terrorist group Boko Haram on women and girls. They have been disproportionately affected having been been used as suicide bombers, subjected to forced marriage and sexually exploited among the 2.4 displaced persons. After they freed or escaping from Boko Haram, returnees often face stigmatisation.

The issue of the Post Conflict Reconstruction and Development (PCRD) efforts in the areas affected by and liberated from the Boko Haram will be one of the top issues in tomorrow’s briefing. Restoring the security, livelihood and social fabric of the millions displaced by the activities of Boko Haram and the campaigns against it will need huge resources and political commitment from the countries of the region and the international community. With the AU led Regional Strategy for the Stabilization, Recovery and Resilience of the Boko Haram-affected areas of the Lake Chad Basin, which was adopted by the Council of Ministers of the LCBC on 30 August 2018, the session can use the Strategy as a useful framework for disbursing the 672 million dollars pledged by donors for emergency assistance and reconstruction at the Oslo Humanitarian Conference on Nigeria and the Lake Chad Basin region held almost two years ago.

The expected outcome of the briefing is a communiqué. Apart from renewing the mandate of the MNJTF for a period of 12 months effective 31 January 2019, the communiqué may call for the mobilization of all recovery and reconstruction efforts to be mobilized within the framework of the same strategy as has been adopted by the members of the LCBC. It could also address the need for developing workable approach to address the existing gaps in the capability of and in the pursuit of legally sound strategy by the MNJTF including in terms of the handling of surrendered or captured Boko Haram. With respect to the humanitarian situation, the PSC could also consider establishing an expert group that can propose ways and means of effectively operationalizing its mandate in respect to humanitarian action with particular attention to the situation in Boko Haram affected areas.