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A Fight for the Future in Lake Chad Basin


FILE - Cameroonian soldiers stand guard amidst dust kicked up by a helicopter in Kolofata, Cameroon, March 16, 2016. Part of a multinational force, the soldiers have intensified their fight against Boko Haram militants.

“If we fail to adopt and pursue this comprehensive approach, we may well defeat Boko Haram on the battlefield, only to be confronted by Boko Haram 2.0 that rises from its ashes.”

The people of the Lake Chad Basin have much to look forward to, said Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken during his recent visit to Nigeria. “Their energy, their ingenuity—-reflected in young people across the region—-points the way towards a future for the Lake Chad Basin defined by growth, by opportunity, by dignity.”

Nonetheless, they must first rid themselves of a great, dangerous storm clouding that bright future.

“The fight against Boko Haram is a fight for this future—one that unlocks the potential of all people, the prosperity of nations, and peace for the entire region,” said Deputy Secretary of State Blinken.

Over the last year or so, the Lake Chad Basin countries have made considerable progress in degrading Boko Haram, and we commend all of them-- Nigeria, Niger, Chad, Cameroon, and Benin--for standing up the Multinational Joint Task Force, which is, of course, tasked with ending the Boko Haram insurgency. The United States is deeply committed to supporting this fight, and will continue to provide to the task force advisors, training and necessary resources.

But victory on the battlefield is not enough to ensure the lasting defeat of Boko Haram. For that, Boko Haram’s ideology must be nullified through government provision of civilian security and civil administration. Human rights abuses must be investigated and abusers held to account. Civilian-military relations must improve. And finally, communities suffering under Boko Haram’s heavy fist must be liberated and stabilized, the people provided with humanitarian assistance, basic services and economic opportunity.

“If we fail to adopt and pursue this comprehensive approach, we may well defeat Boko Haram on the battlefield, only to be confronted by Boko Haram 2.0 that rises from its ashes,” said Deputy Secretary Blinken.

As we look ahead to the future, Deputy Secretary Blinken said, “The hard challenges of this moment are matched by the promise and potential of this region. We are confident that the Lake Chad Basin countries—with support from the United States, France, the United Kingdom, the European Union, and other international partners—will win this fight and set this region on a course to realize a better future. Let us now turn our unity of vision into sustained unity of action.”

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