West & Central Africa

Cameroon: Boko Haram weakened say International Crisis Group (ICG)

Reports from Cameroon say attacks by Boko Haram have reduced dramatically in the last few months. “We’ve seen a dizzying downwards spiral in the number of attacks and suicide bombings,” said Hans De Marie Heungoup, one of the report’s authors from (the International Crisis Group) ICG.

Hans said two years ago, attacks were happening on an almost daily basis, but the number had fallen to between six and eight a month since September… [Boko Haram] has suffered heavy losses and seen its conventional capacities reduced,”

cameroonins-soldier-killedThe challenge facing the northern regions of Cameroon now is the Internally Displaced Persons. UNHCR’s spokesperson Leo Dobbs said that in northern Cameroon, many refugees live with destitute host families, while those with no relatives sleep out in the open, “in makeshift shelters or on dirt floors in dilapidated classrooms.”

He added that others still go back to  “abandoned villages whose residents had fled Boko Haram attacks earlier,” to find some shelter. He pointed out that the UN agency was having difficulty intervening in the far north due to Boko Haram attacks in the area, which have also internally displaced some 199,000 Cameroonians.

However Reuters report says Boko Haram still controls some of the large fish markets around Lake Chad and controls routes and commercial roads and activities at the borders of Niger Republic, Cameroon and Nigeria.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has stated that the situation in the region is still grave.

“We are very concerned about the security situation … do not think that the crisis is anywhere near over,” Toby Lanzer, U.N. humanitarian coordinator for the Sahel, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone. “We believe that there are up to a million people in the areas and villages we haven’t been able to reach,” Lanzer said.

It is estimated that about 4,000 Cameroonians have joined the group and some were given sign-on bonuses of up to $2000 and a motorbike, according to the study, citing interviews with locals. The report further states that those who proved their loyalty by killing their parents often enjoyed quick promotion.