John Campbell

Africa in Transition

Campbell tracks political and security developments across sub-Saharan Africa.

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Showing posts for "Cameroon"

Unanswered Questions About The Kidnapped Nigerian School Girls

by John Campbell
A soldier walks past a burnt vehicle during a military patrol in Hausari village, near Maiduguri and the Sambisa forest, June 5, 2013. (Joe Brock/Courtesy Reuters) A soldier walks past a burnt vehicle during a military patrol in Hausari village, near Maiduguri and the Sambisa forest, June 5, 2013. (Joe Brock/Courtesy Reuters)

The kidnapping of Nigerian school girls has outraged Nigerian and international opinion. The failure to find and release them after two weeks has further discredited the federal government and the Jonathan administration. This episode, combined with the bombing of a suburban Abuja bus terminal the day before the kidnapping, has brought home to the Nigerian public that their country’s crisis cannot be walled-off in the far northeast of the country. Read more »

Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons in Northern Nigeria

by John Campbell
Families from Gwoza, Borno State, displaced by the violence and unrest caused by the insurgency, are pictured at a refugee camp in Mararaba Madagali, Adamawa State, February 18, 2014. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters) Families from Gwoza, Borno State, displaced by the violence and unrest caused by the insurgency, are pictured at a refugee camp in Mararaba Madagali, Adamawa State, February 18, 2014. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters)

The ongoing insurgency in northern Nigeria, called “Boko Haram,” and the government’s often brutal attempts to suppress it, have produced a tide of refugees and internally displaced in one of the world’s poorest regions. With the “fog of war,” government restrictions on news agencies, and a poor communications infrastructure, it is difficult to survey needs with precision. Read more »

Are Nigeria’s Boko Haram and Ansaru Getting Back Together?

by John Campbell
Crowds fill Abubakar Gumi central market after authorities relaxed a 24 hour curfew in the northern Nigerian city of Kaduna, June 24, 2012. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters) Crowds fill Abubakar Gumi central market after authorities relaxed a 24 hour curfew in the northern Nigerian city of Kaduna, June 24, 2012. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters)

Last week, a French Catholic priest, Georges Vandenbeusch, was kidnapped in northern Cameroon. According to the local Roman Catholic bishop, some fifteen gunmen invaded the priest’s compound looking for money.

A nun working in the community said the kidnappers spoke English, not French, the predominant European language in that part of Cameroon. A Cameroonian official says that Fr. Vandenbeusch has been spirited away to Nigeria. An anonymous sources, quoted by France-24, claims that the operation was joint between Boko Haram and Ansaru. Read more »

Ansaru: Who Are They And Where Are They From?

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
Evidence is displayed during a hearing for suspected members of al Qaeda in the Islamic Magreb (AQIM) at a military court in Tunis June 9, 2012. (Zoubeir Souissi/Courtesy Reuters) Evidence is displayed during a hearing for suspected members of al Qaeda in the Islamic Magreb (AQIM) at a military court in Tunis June 9, 2012. (Zoubeir Souissi/Courtesy Reuters)

This is a guest post by Jacob Zenn, an analyst of African Affairs for the Washington D.C.-based think tank, The Jamestown Foundation, and a contributor for the West Point CTC Sentinel.

Ansaru is not a grassroots organization like Boko Haram, the more prominent Islamist militant group in Nigeria. Nonetheless, Ansaru has been more of a threat to Western interests than Boko Haram. Recent evidence also shows that the two groups may be merging. Read more »

Communications Further Cut in Northeastern Nigeria

by John Campbell
A woman tries to get reception on her mobile phone in Maiduguri, after the military declared a 24-hour curfew over large parts of the city in Borno State May 19, 2013. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters) A woman tries to get reception on her mobile phone in Maiduguri, after the military declared a 24-hour curfew over large parts of the city in Borno State May 19, 2013. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters)

When President Goodluck Jonathan declared a state of emergency in Borno, Yobe, and Adamawa states in response to a radical Islamist insurgency, the Nigerian government banned the use of cell phones. Earlier, the Islamists had destroyed many or most of the cell phone towers. A result has been little telephone communication between the northeast and the rest of the world. This is in addition to existing restrictions on the operations of the press in the affected region. A consequence is that the outside world knows little about what is actually going on in northeast Nigeria independent of government sources. Read more »

Lord’s Resistance Army and Elephant Poaching

by John Campbell
Lords Resistance Army (LRA) fighters arrive at an assembly point in Owiny Ki Bul, 160km (100 miles) south of Juba, Sudan, September 19, 2006. (James Akena/Courtesy Reuters) Lords Resistance Army (LRA) fighters arrive at an assembly point in Owiny Ki Bul, 160km (100 miles) south of Juba, Sudan, September 19, 2006. (James Akena/Courtesy Reuters)

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon reported to the UN Security Council Group of Experts, who monitor the Libyan arms embargo, that Joseph Koney and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) are funding themselves through elephant poaching, as are other armed rebel groups. He commented that Libyan heavy weapons, formerly in Muammar Ghaddafi’s Libyan arsenal, and now scattered prolifically across sub-Saharan conflict areas, are making the poachers more efficient. His report added weight to the growing security concerns associated with elephant poaching, especially across Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Chad, Gabon, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Read more »

Mapping the Nigerian State of Emergency

by John Campbell
Soldiers from Lagos, part of an expected 1,000 reinforcements sent to Adamawa state to fight Boko Haram Islamists, walk near trucks as they arrive with the 23rd Armoured Brigade in Yola May 20, 2013. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters) Soldiers from Lagos, part of an expected 1,000 reinforcements sent to Adamawa state to fight Boko Haram Islamists, walk near trucks as they arrive with the 23rd Armoured Brigade in Yola May 20, 2013. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters)

Emily Mellgard coauthored this post. Emily is the Africa research associate at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Information about the state of emergency in the three northern Nigerian states of Borno, Yobe, and Adamawa comes almost exclusively from government sources. Cell phones no longer operate and there are few journalists in the area; though some have been able to make contact with refugees fleeing across the border into Cameroon and Niger. The government claims that as many as 2,000 troops were deployed within twenty-four hours of President Goodluck Jonathan’s declaration of the state of emergency. They are accompanied by air and ground support, including military jets, helicopters, and tanks. But we cannot confirm these claims from independent sources. The troops appear to have been compiled from those already deployed in other parts of Nigeria, Mali, and Liberia. Read more »

A Nigerian Rubicon or More of the Same?

by John Campbell
A soldier walks past the scene of a bomb explosion in Nigeria's northern city of Kaduna December 7, 2011. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters) A soldier walks past the scene of a bomb explosion in Nigeria's northern city of Kaduna December 7, 2011. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters)

Over the weekend, fighting in the northern Nigerian border town of Baga killed at least 185, according to the New York Times and Nigerian media. The magnitude of the killings leads the Times to conclude that a Rubicon of sorts has been crossed: “The assault marks a significant escalation in the long-running insurgency Nigeria faces in its predominately Muslim north, with Boko Haram extremists mounting a coordinated assault on soldiers using military-grade weaponry.” Read more »

Kidnapped French Family Freed in Cameroon

by John Campbell
French President Francois Hollande (C) speaks with Cameroon's President Paul Biya (R) after a meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris, January 30, 2013. (Philippe Wojazer/Courtesy Reuters). French President Francois Hollande (C) speaks with Cameroon's President Paul Biya (R) after a meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris, January 30, 2013. (Philippe Wojazer/Courtesy Reuters).

While attention is focused on the manhunt for the perpetrators of the Boston Marathon bombings, there is good news from West Africa. In a Paris news conference, French president Francois Hollande announced that the French family of seven kidnapped in northern Cameroon—including four children—have finally been released after two months of captivity. Hollande said the release followed several weeks of secret negotiations, and that the French had not paid a ransom. As has been well documented, ransoms paid by European countries in the past have been a significant source of revenue for terrorist operations in West Africa and the Sahel. Read more »