John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

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Showing posts for "Human Trafficking"

Nigeria’s Buhari Administration, the Chibok Girls, and the ICRC

by John Campbell
Some of the twenty-one Chibok schoolgirls released by Boko Haram look on during their visit to meet President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja, Nigeria, October 19, 2016. (Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde)

The release of twenty-one Chibok school girls kidnapped by Boko Haram almost three years ago has produced national rejoicing, led by the Anglican primate and a Roman Catholic cardinal. It has also been a popular boost for the Buhari administration, in the midst of an economic recession, ongoing Boko Haram attacks, ethnic conflict in the middle belt, and insurgency in the Niger Delta. The media reports that the freed girls look “emaciated” and that perhaps nineteen were accompanied by babies. Of the still missing girls, it is not known how many are still alive, willing, and capable of being released. One of the released girls says that shortly after their capture, they were separated into two groups – those who would convert and become wives, and those who would not convert and become slaves. Of those otherwise able to return, some of them may choose to stay with Boko Haram. Read more »

The State of Slavery in Mauritania

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
A Bella woman stands behind her Tuareg master at a camp for Malian refugees in Goudebou, Burkina Faso, April 5, 2014. (Reuters/Misha Hussain)

Tyler Falish is a student in Fordham University’s Graduate Program in International Political Economy & Development and a former intern for the Council on Foreign Relations Africa Studies program.

The Global Slavery Index estimates that 45.8 million people are currently subject to modern slavery. Modern slavery can take the form of forced labor, domestic servitude, forced marriage, child slavery, and debt bondage, among other forms. Within this definition, it is estimated that India, China, Pakistan, and Bangladesh have the highest prevalence of modern slavery. In Mauritania—a former French colony in the Maghreb—a conservative estimate suggests that 43,000 (just over 1 percent of the population of four million) Mauritanians are enslaved. Although this figure appears to indicate an impressive drop from a 2014 estimate of 140,000, the change may be due in large part to more robust statistical techniques and improvements in survey methodology. Precision aside, thousands of Mauritanians remain enslaved. Read more »

Boko Haram’s Factional Feud

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
Nigerian soldiers hold up a Boko Haram flag that they had seized in the recently retaken town of Damasak, Nigeria, March 18, 2015. (Reuters/Emmanuel Braun)

This is a guest post by Jacob Zenn. Jacob is a fellow of African affairs at The Jamestown Foundation in Washington DC.

Since Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau pledged allegiance to self-proclaimed Islamic State’s leader Abubakar al-Baghdadi in March 2015, Boko Haram has been known as the Islamic State’s West Africa Province (ISWAP). From that pledge until August 8, 2016, the formerly bombastic Shekau had not been seen publicly. During this period, Shekau and his former rival for Boko Haram leadership, Mamman Nur, appear to have been locked in a factional feud, with the two of them sending audios behind-the-scenes condemning one another. Nevertheless, until August 3 the Islamic State recognized Shekau as the “wali,” or governor, of ISWAP. Read more »

South Africa President Jacob Zuma on Libya and the European Migration Crisis

by John Campbell
South African President Jacob Zuma (R) meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping (not pictured) at the Great Hall Of the People in Beijing, China, September 4, 2015. (Reuters/Lintao Zhang/Pool)

Jacob Zuma’s anger and poor understanding of the 2011 NATO intervention in Libya apparently still shapes his approach to the West.

On September 15, President Zuma briefed the foreign diplomatic corps accredited to South Africa on the country’s foreign policy. According to the South African media, the speech was prepared by the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (the foreign ministry). But, the South African media reports that at one point Zuma departed from the text to say, inter alia, “Before the Arab Spring and before the killing of Gaddafi there were no refugees flying or flocking to European countries. It was all quiet….Things were normal in the north of Africa…. Those who were part of destabilizing that part of the world don’t want to accept refugees. It is their responsibility. They caused it. They must address it.” Zuma appears to be mixing together the migration from and through Libya with the much larger flow of migrants from countries like Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Eritrea. Read more »

African Leaders Silent on Boat People

by John Campbell
Shadows from migrants are cast on a makeshift shelter with the written word "Refugee" in Calais, France, April 30, 2015. (Pascal Rossignol/Courtesy Reuters)

Adam Nossiter has published a thought-provoking article in the April 29, 2015, New York Times. He comments on the silence of African leaders regarding the deaths of scores of African boat people who were trying to cross the Mediterranean in search of a better life. While it is true that many of the Mediterranean boat people are from Syria, Afghanistan, and other parts of the world, the majority are African. Read more »

An African Odyssey

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
A group of 104 sub-Saharan Africans on board a rubber dinghy reach out for life jackets tossed to them by rescuers of the NGO Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS) some 25 miles off the Libyan coast in this handout photo provided by MOAS October 4, 2014. MOAS, a privately-funded humanitarian initiative, began operating at the end of August and has assisted in the rescue of some 2,200 migrants crossing from Libyan shores towards Europe. (MOAS/Darrin Zammit Lupi/Handout via Reuters)

This is a guest post by Amanda Roth, a former intern for the Council on Foreign Relations Africa Program. She is a graduate student at the Columbia School of International and Public Affairs, where she studies international security policyRead more »

Nigeria’s Chibok School Girl Kidnapping Six Months Later

by John Campbell
A member of the #BringBackOurGirls campaign group holds a placard under a bridge on the 140th day of the abduction of 219 schoolgirls from Government Secondary School in Chibok, Borno State, while they were sitting for their final exams, during a protest in Abuja, September 1, 2014. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters)

On the night of April 14-15, 2014 up to three hundred girls from different schools in northeastern Nigeria gathered for their final examinations in the town of Chibok. Instead of taking their tests, they were kidnapped. Three weeks later, on May 5, Boko Haram’s Abubakar Shekau claimed responsibility for the kidnapping. Some victims managed to escape, and the numbers still held in captivity are soft. The figure most often cited by the media is 276. Read more »

Nigeria: Kidnapping and Escape of Women and Girls

by John Campbell
Campaigners attend a speak-out session for the "Bring Back Our Girls" campaign in the rain near Nigeria's Lagos Marina, July 5, 2014. (Akintunde Akinleye/Courtesy Reuters)

Western attention continues to focus on the kidnapping of up to three hundred school girls from the Chibok Secondary School in April. Boko Haram has claimed responsibility. There has been an international outcry and offers of assistance from Western countries. The United States offered surveillance aircraft and unmanned drones. Nevertheless, the girls have not been located, much less rescued. Read more »

Contemplating the Nigerian Crises That Attract International Notoriety

by John Campbell
A man holds a placard calling for the release of secondary school girls abducted in the remote village of Chibok, during a protest along a road in Lagos, #BringBackOurGirls, May 14, 2014. (Akintunde Akinleye/Courtesy Reuters)

There has been no end of atrocities related to the “Boko Haram” insurgency and the Nigerian government’s failed efforts to defeat it. For example, in February, “Boko Haram” slit the throats of some dozens of adolescent boys in the dormitory of a boarding school they attacked and burned. In March, the security services murdered in cold blood hundreds of detainees at Giwa Barracks charged with no crime, an event that is the subject of an Amnesty International report. Read more »

Shekau’s Latest Video and the Kidnapped Nigerian School Girls

by John Campbell
People carry a banner with an image of Boko Haram leader?Abubakar?Shekau?as they protest for the release of the abducted secondary school girls in the remote village of Chibok, along a road in Lagos May 12, 2014. (Akintunde Akinleye/Courtesy Reuters)

Shekau’s latest video has generated international excitement, not least because it raises the hope (I would say chimera) for a negotiated release of the kidnapped school girls. Shekau has once again shown himself a master at manipulating public opinion, both domestic and international. I leave for a later blog post consideration of the possibility of negotiations. Read more »