John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

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Showing posts for "Refugee"

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 »

The Central African Republic: Where Elections Could Do More Harm Than Good

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
(L-R) Archbishop of Bangui Dieudonne Nzapalainga; Bangas Nicolas, a minister in the evangelical church; and imam Oumar Kobine Layama, representative of the Muslim community in Bangui attend during a meeting between religious representatives, Bangui residents and African and French peacekeeping forces, in Bangui, February 10, 2014. (Luc Gnago/Courtesy Reuters) (L-R) Archbishop of Bangui Dieudonne Nzapalainga; Bangas Nicolas, a minister in the evangelical church; and imam Oumar Kobine Layama, representative of the Muslim community in Bangui attend during a meeting between religious representatives, Bangui residents and African and French peacekeeping forces, in Bangui, February 10, 2014. (Luc Gnago/Courtesy Reuters)

This is a guest post by Emily Mellgard, research associate for the Council on Foreign Relations Africa Studies program.

Elections are often seen as progress toward democracy in Africa. Elections confer legitimacy on governments, especially abroad. However, in some conflicts, conducting elections credible enough to confer legitimacy is an unrealistic goal. Instead there are “election-like-events.” These may even exacerbate internal cleavages within a society. Rushing into elections in the Central African Republic will not resolve the breakdown of order there and could make it worse. Read more »

Repatriating Somali Refugees: A Kenyan National Security Red Herring

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
Refugees who have been living in the outskirts of the proper camps in Hagadera load their belongings onto trucks as they choose to relocate to the newly-opened Kambioos settlement, at Kenya's Dadaab Refugee Camp, situated northeast of the capital Nairobi near the Somali border, August 29, 2011. (Jonathan Ernst/Courtesy Reuters) Refugees who have been living in the outskirts of the proper camps in Hagadera load their belongings onto trucks as they choose to relocate to the newly-opened Kambioos settlement, at Kenya's Dadaab Refugee Camp, situated northeast of the capital Nairobi near the Somali border, August 29, 2011. (Jonathan Ernst/Courtesy Reuters)

This is a guest post by Alex Dick-Godfrey, program coordinator, Studies administration for the Council on Foreign Relations Studies program. 

Even before the Westgate Mall attack in Nairobi, Kenya last September, the Kenyan government was wary of the threat posed by Somali terrorist organizations, especially al-Shabaab. After the attack, Kenyan lawmakers heightened their focus on the terrorist organization, and swiftly retaliated. There was also an almost immediate backlash against the nearly 500,000 Somali refugees currently in Kenya. Many Kenyans suspect the Westgate Mall attackers came from a refugee camp, and the presence of the camps has long been a source of tension for the communities around them. Kenya would be wise, however, to not disproportionately blame Somali refugees for security issues within Kenya. Read more »

Is South Sudan’s SPLA Breaking Up?

by John Campbell
An internally displaced man holds his son inside a United Nations Missions in Sudan (UNMIS) compound in Juba, December 19, 2013. (Goran Tomasevic/Courtesy Reuters) An internally displaced man holds his son inside a United Nations Missions in Sudan (UNMIS) compound in Juba, December 19, 2013. (Goran Tomasevic/Courtesy Reuters)

South Sudan president Salva Kiir and ex-vice president Riek Machar have sent delegations to the African Union’s headquarters in Addis Ababa to try to negotiate a ceasefire to the recent outbreak of hostilities. In the meantime, a humanitarian crisis looms, with hundreds of thousands displaced persons. There are fears that the conflict is spiralling down into a civil war. Read more »

Refugee Flows from Northern Nigeria

by John Campbell
Women attempt to cross Jos Road with their belongings, after the military declared a 24-hour curfew over large parts of Maiduguri in Borno State May 19, 2013. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters) Women attempt to cross Jos Road with their belongings, after the military declared a 24-hour curfew over large parts of Maiduguri in Borno State May 19, 2013. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters)

The UN Office for Humanitarian Affairs has registered 37,332 people fleeing the fighting between the Nigerian security services and jihadist insurgents called Boko Haram. According to the UN, the refugees have been registered at Diffa, in southeast Niger. The flow of refugees into Niger has increased sixfold since the Abuja government declared a state of emergency in Yobe, Borno, and Adamawa states in June this year. Read more »

Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe: Unjust Rewards?

by John Campbell
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe addresses the crowd gathered to commemorate Heroes Day in Harare August 12, 2013. (Philimon Bulawayo/Courtesy Reuters) Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe addresses the crowd gathered to commemorate Heroes Day in Harare August 12, 2013. (Philimon Bulawayo/Courtesy Reuters)

Only weeks after he won Zimbabwe’s sham elections, Robert Mugabe was elected deputy chairperson of the Southern African Development Community (SADC). Malawi’s president Joyce Banda was elected chairperson. After she completes her one-year term, Mugabe will become the chairperson. SADC, for the time being, has embraced Mugabe. Read more »

Mali’s Elections: Still More Questions Than Answers

by John Campbell
A woman casts her vote during Mali's presidential election in Timbuktu, Mali, July 28, 2013. (Joe Penney/Courtesy Reuters) A woman casts her vote during Mali's presidential election in Timbuktu, Mali, July 28, 2013. (Joe Penney/Courtesy Reuters)

Information about Mali’s polling on Sunday, July 28 is coming from western sources–notably Radio France Internationale (RFI), Deutsche Welle (DW), and Voice of America (VOA). As is usual the day after African elections, the three are upbeat in tone. Already there are congratulations and self-congratulations. According to RFI, French President Hollande, who is heavily invested politically in the elections being a success, welcomed the polling “marked by good turnout and an absence of any major incident.” French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said, “congratulations are in order that the Mali elections went off well. For France, it is a great success,” also according to RFI. The Mali interim president, Dioncounda Traoré said, “I think that this is the best election that Malians can remember since 1960,” again according to RFI. 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 »

Polio is Back in the Horn of Africa

by John Campbell
A newly arrived Somali refugee child receives a polio drop at the Ifo extension refugee camp in Dadaab, near the Kenya-Somalia border, August 1, 2011. (Thomas Mukoya/Courtesy Reuters) A newly arrived Somali refugee child receives a polio drop at the Ifo extension refugee camp in Dadaab, near the Kenya-Somalia border, August 1, 2011. (Thomas Mukoya/Courtesy Reuters)

In April, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported the new presence of wild polio virus type 1 (WPV1) in the Banadir region of Somalia. The initial victim was a thirty-two month old girl. By the end of May, there were four polio cases in Somalia. The WHO has also announced a confirmed case of polio at Kenya’s Dadaab refugee camp, the world’s largest, housing 424,000 people from central Africa and the horn, close to the border of Somalia. This is Kenya’s first polio outbreak in two years. 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 »