Rethinking Nigeria's Response to the Boko Haram Crisis

The ongoing violence in northeastern Nigeria continues to generate substantial humanitarian consequences and shows no signs of abatement. The Government of Nigeria has been inconsistent in its campaign, alternating between disengagement and the disproportionate use of force to counter Boko Haram and ISIS-West Africa. Its response to humanitarian challenges have been equally problematic; Nigerian officials have herded civilian populations into so-called garrison towns. This policy misdiagnoses the underlying drivers of the conflict and is deeply counterproductive. It has created fear and distrust in part because the government has alleged that civilians who chose not to move are Boko Haram sympathizers. This approach has implications for U.S. policy toward Nigeria in general and its assistance programs in the northeast region in particular. The panel will examine North East Nigerian current conflict dynamics, government policies toward the region, and opportunities and challenges for U.S. political, security, and humanitarian engagement.

Judd Devermont, Director, Africa Program