John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

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Nigeria Security Tracker: Weekly Update June 13-June 19

by John Campbell
The map above depicts deaths in Nigeria by state. (Source: CFR Nigeria Security Tracker; powered by Tableau) The map above depicts deaths in Nigeria by state. (Source: CFR Nigeria Security Tracker; powered by Tableau)

Below is a visualization and description of some of the most significant incidents of political violence in Nigeria from June 13, 2015 to June 19, 2015. This update also represents violence related to Boko Haram in Cameroon, Chad, and Niger. These incidents will be included in the Nigeria Security Tracker. Read more »

Muhammadu Buhari Moves Against Boko Haram

by John Campbell
Nigeria's President-elect Muhammadu Buhari departs after meeting with Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron at Downing Street in London, England, May 23, 2015. (Reuters/Neil Hall) Nigeria's President-elect Muhammadu Buhari departs after meeting with Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron at Downing Street in London, England, May 23, 2015. (Reuters/Neil Hall)

The Nigeria Security Tracker shows that Boko Haram activity has escalated over the past two weeks, though it is still below the levels seen before the March elections when there was widespread fighting involving government security services. Buhari has visited Niger and Chad to consult with heads of state about next moves, and he is at present at the G-7 meeting in Germany. According to the Nigerian media Boko Haram is at the top of his agenda. Read more »

Response Needed to Northern Nigeria’s Humanitarian Disaster

by John Campbell
Baby Lurky, whose family was displaced as a result of Boko Haram attacks in the northeast region of Nigeria, sleeps in the shade at a camp for internally displaced people (IDP) in Yola, Adamawa State, January 14, 2015. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters) Baby Lurky, whose family was displaced as a result of Boko Haram attacks in the northeast region of Nigeria, sleeps in the shade at a camp for internally displaced people (IDP) in Yola, Adamawa State, January 14, 2015. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters)

In the May 19 New York Times Adam Nossiter reports on the conditions of women and girls newly freed from Boko Haram captivity. He reports that they are among some 15,000 internally displaced persons (IDP) at a camp in Dalori, Borno, outside of the state capital, Maiduguri. Read more »

Kenya’s Al-Shabaab Problem

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
A man participates in a protest against the gunmen attack at the Garissa University, at the Eastleigh neighborhood in Kenya's capital Nairobi, April 8, 2015. (Thomas Mukoya/Courtesy Reuters) A man participates in a protest against the gunmen attack at the Garissa University, at the Eastleigh neighborhood in Kenya's capital Nairobi, April 8, 2015. (Thomas Mukoya/Courtesy Reuters)

This is a guest post by Aala Abdelgadir, research associate for the Council on Foreign Relation’s Civil Society, Markets, and Democracy Initiative.

On October 16, 2011, the Kenyan army, in an ostensibly joint operation with the Somalian and Ethiopian militaries, crossed the border into Somalia and attacked the insurgent group al-Shabaab. In response to the October 16 offensive, al-Shabaab launched an attack in Kenya on October 24, 2011. The attack killed one person. 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) 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 »

Europe’s Migrant Crisis

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
African migrants walk on a pier after being rescued by the Libyan navy following their boat suffering engine failure, at the coastal town of Gharaboli, east of Tripoli, November 20, 2014. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters) African migrants walk on a pier after being rescued by the Libyan navy following their boat suffering engine failure, at the coastal town of Gharaboli, east of Tripoli, November 20, 2014. (Stringer/Courtesy 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 policy Read more »

Musings About Nigeria’s Boko Haram and Maiduguri

by John Campbell
An official stands in front of relief materials at a camp for displaced people in Maiduguri in Borno State, January 19, 2015. (Courtesy Reuters/Stringer) An official stands in front of relief materials at a camp for displaced people in Maiduguri in Borno State, January 19, 2015. (Courtesy Reuters/Stringer)

Maiduguri is the capital of Borno state and is the metropole of northeastern Nigeria. It has a federal university and an international airport, co-located with a Nigerian air force base. On the edge of the Sahara, it has long had religious links with Khartoum and been a center of radical Islamic thought. It has become known as the city of Boko Haram’s origin, and the venue where the movement’s leader, Mohammed Yussuf, established his community and was eventually murdered by the police. Most of its indigenous population is Kanuri, but like any big Nigerian city, it is populated by numerous ethnic groups. In pre-colonial times, the jihad of the sultan of Sokoto failed to conquer Borno, and its traditional ruler, the Shehu of Borno, continues to be a significant religious, cultural, and possibly political figure. Maiduguri is primarily a trading center. Even in the best of times, it is very poor, a reflection of the general poverty common to northeast Nigeria. The size of its population is approximately 1.2 million, including many refugees displaced by Boko Haram. Read more »

In Search of Justice for Central Africans

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
Internally displaced persons (IDPs) take a break on an armed peacekeeping convoy as they are escorted from the capital Bangui to the northern towns of Kabo and Sido on the border with Chad, April 28, 2014 (Courtesy Reuters/Modola). Internally displaced persons (IDPs) take a break on an armed peacekeeping convoy as they are escorted from the capital Bangui to the northern towns of Kabo and Sido on the border with Chad, April 28, 2014 (Courtesy Reuters/Modola).

This is a guest post by Tiffany Lynch. She is a senior policy analyst at the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. The views expressed are her own and may or may not reflect the views of the Commission.

In early January, two years after civil war broke out in the Central African Republic (CAR) between the Séléka, a predominantly Muslim rebel faction, and the anti-balaka, a predominantly radical Christian militia, the United Nations International Commission of Inquiry on the Central African Republic publicly announced its conclusion that Christian militias were responsible for the ethnic cleansing of Muslims in this war torn country. Since September 2013, UN officials and independent human rights organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have warned of ethnic cleansing or genocide in CAR. 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) 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 Boko Haram Moving Toward Governance?

by John Campbell
Internally displaced persons (IDP) camp, set up for Nigerians fleeing the violence committed against them by Boko Haram militants, at Wurojuli, Gombe State, September 1, 2014. Internally displaced persons (IDP) camp, set up for Nigerians fleeing the violence committed against them by Boko Haram militants, at Wurojuli, Gombe State, September 1, 2014.

The Nigerian media is reporting that Boko Haram is firmly in control of Mubi, a strategically important town in Adamawa state. Apparently based on telephone contact with city residents and a few interviews with those who have fled, the media is presenting a Boko Haram effort to return the city to normal, albeit run according to Islamic law. Read more »