John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

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What to Watch: Africa 2016

by John Campbell and Guest Blogger for John Campbell
Boys play on the roof of the entrance to a football stadium in Gao February 20, 2013. (Reuters/Joe Penney) Boys play on the roof of the entrance to a football stadium in Gao February 20, 2013. (Reuters/Joe Penney)

While western governments are currently transfixed on events in Iraq and Syria, it is important that they do not forget Africa. Boko Haram has become the world’s deadliest terrorist organization and Libya is increasingly becoming a base of operations for the Islamic State. Below, CFR’s Africa program outlines six African issues to watch in 2016. While they could certainly affect the lives of millions of Africans, these issues could also have serious implications for international politics. Read more »

The Eastern Congo

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
South African peacekeepers patrol the streets of Goma in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, December 2, 2015.  (Reuters/ Ed Cropley) South African peacekeepers patrol the streets of Goma in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, December 2, 2015. (Reuters/ Ed Cropley)

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

Last Thursday, the Council on Foreign Relations’ visual media team released its new InfoGuide: The Eastern Congo. Developed in conjunction with experts from Human Rights Watch, Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, the United States Institute of Peace, and the Congo Research Group, the guide provides an excellent outline of the conflict that has plagued the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. Read more »

United States Humanitarian Assistance to Nigerian Internally Displaced Persons and Refugees

by John Campbell
Women displaced by Boko Haram violence residing at the IDP camp yola, are briefed before other women and children rescued from Boko Haram in Sambisa forest by Nigeria Military arrive at the Internally displaced people's camp in Yola, Adamawa State, Nigeria, May 2, 2015. (Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde) Women displaced by Boko Haram violence residing at the IDP camp yola, are briefed before other women and children rescued from Boko Haram in Sambisa forest by Nigeria Military arrive at the Internally displaced people's camp in Yola, Adamawa State, Nigeria, May 2, 2015. (Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde)

The conflict with Boko Haram has resulted in a humanitarian catastrophe in northeastern Nigeria and adjacent parts of Niger, Chad, and Cameroon, with estimates of internally displaced persons (IDP) and refugees sometimes approaching two million. In addition, acute malnutrition is widespread. On August 21, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) issued a useful fact sheet that profiles the severity of the crisis, drawing largely on United Nations (UN) statistics. It also provides useful facts and figures on U.S. humanitarian assistance. Some highlights of the USAID fact sheet are given below. Read more »

August Boko Haram Killings Approach Pre-Election Levels

by John Campbell
Security and emergency agency staff investigate the Kano Central Mosque bombing scene in Kano November 29, 2014. Gunmen set off three bombs and opened fire on worshippers at the main mosque in north Nigeria's biggest city Kano on Friday, killing at least 81 people, witnesses and officials said, in an attack that bore the hallmarks of Islamist Boko Haram militants. (Courtesy Reuters/Stringer) Security and emergency agency staff investigate the Kano Central Mosque bombing scene in Kano November 29, 2014. Gunmen set off three bombs and opened fire on worshippers at the main mosque in north Nigeria's biggest city Kano on Friday, killing at least 81 people, witnesses and officials said, in an attack that bore the hallmarks of Islamist Boko Haram militants. (Courtesy Reuters/Stringer)

Over the last weekend in August, suspected Boko Haram operatives killed some eighty people in three villages in northeast Nigeria, according to the media. The latest round of killings highlights a dramatic resurgence of violence associated with Boko Haram. Read more »

Boko Haram Turns to Lagos

by John Campbell
An aerial view shows the central business district in Nigeria's commercial capital of Lagos, April 7, 2009. Nigeria's First Bank and Access Bank on Wednesday became two of a handful of Nigerian financial institutions to adopt international reporting standards, seen as key to restoring confidence in the battered sector. (Courtesy Reuters/Akintunde Akinleye) An aerial view shows the central business district in Nigeria's commercial capital of Lagos, April 7, 2009. Nigeria's First Bank and Access Bank on Wednesday became two of a handful of Nigerian financial institutions to adopt international reporting standards, seen as key to restoring confidence in the battered sector. (Courtesy Reuters/Akintunde Akinleye)

Lagos, one of the largest cities in the world and the heart of Nigeria’s modern economy, has not been the venue for Boko Haram or other radical jihadi terrorism. The sole episode occurred in 2014 and was small in scale. However, Nigeria’s Department of State Services (DSS), which has some similarities to the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, is raising the possibility that Lagos’ immunity may be about to change. Read more »

The Closing of the Canadian Border

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
Somali-Canadian poet, rapper, singer, songwriter Keinan Abdi Warsame, also known as K'naan (C) talks to Somali refugees during his visit to the Dadaab refugee camps in northern Kenya, August 23, 2011. K'naan travelled to the Dadaab camps to assess the famine and drought situation currently affecting the Horn of Africa including northern Kenya. Picture taken August 23, 2011. (Courtesy Reuters/Fredric Coubert) Somali-Canadian poet, rapper, singer, songwriter Keinan Abdi Warsame, also known as K'naan (C) talks to Somali refugees during his visit to the Dadaab refugee camps in northern Kenya, August 23, 2011. K'naan travelled to the Dadaab camps to assess the famine and drought situation currently affecting the Horn of Africa including northern Kenya. Picture taken August 23, 2011. (Courtesy Reuters/Fredric Coubert)

This is a guest post by Claire Wilmot, an intern for the Council on Foreign Relations Africa Program. She is a master of global affairs candidate at the University of Toronto.

Canada’s reputation as a country that offers safe resettlement to refugees is in sharp decline. From 1961 until the early 2000s, Canadian immigration policy welcomed both immigrants and refugees, particularly from sub-Saharan Africa. However, Stephen Harper’s conservative government has made it increasingly difficult for refugees to resettle in Canada over the past decade. Nevertheless, in the lead up to the October 19 federal elections, immigration policy has not been the subject of public debate and most candidates have remained relatively silent. Read more »

Ebola: What Happened

by John Campbell
The Ebola virus treatment center where four people are currently being treated is seen in Paynesville, Liberia, July 16, 2015. (Courtesy Reuters/James Giahyue) The Ebola virus treatment center where four people are currently being treated is seen in Paynesville, Liberia, July 16, 2015. (Courtesy Reuters/James Giahyue)

With a rapidly growing and urbanizing population, persistent poverty, and weak governance, Sub-Saharan Africa is likely to be the source of new epidemics that potentially could spread around the world. Understanding the disastrous response of African governments, international institutions, and donor governments to the Ebola epidemic is essential if history is not to be repeated yet again. That makes Laurie Garrett’s essay, “Ebola’s Lessons,” in the September/October 2015 issue of Foreign Affairs, essential reading. Read more »

Boko Haram’s Shekau Replaced? Not So Fast

by John Campbell
Niger's President Mahamadou Issoufou, Benin's President Thomas Boni Yayi, Chad's President Idriss Deby and Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari (L-R) pose during the presentation of the communique of the Summit of Heads of State and Government of The Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC) meeting in Abuja, Nigeria, June 11, 2015. Nigeria and its neighbours agreed on Thursday to set up a joint military force to counter Boko Haram, a sign of President Muhammadu Buhari's intent to crush the Islamist militant group early in his tenure. (Courtesy Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde) Niger's President Mahamadou Issoufou, Benin's President Thomas Boni Yayi, Chad's President Idriss Deby and Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari (L-R) pose during the presentation of the communique of the Summit of Heads of State and Government of The Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC) meeting in Abuja, Nigeria, June 11, 2015. Nigeria and its neighbours agreed on Thursday to set up a joint military force to counter Boko Haram, a sign of President Muhammadu Buhari's intent to crush the Islamist militant group early in his tenure. (Courtesy Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde)

Chadian President Idriss Deby’s August 11 comments that Abubakar Shekau has been replaced by Mahamat Daoud and that the latter is open to negotiations with Nigeria’s Buhari government, has predictably stirred the Western media. (As of August 12, the story is not yet featured by the Nigerian media.) As is usual with stories about potential negotiations, Western media ties this story to hopes for freedom for the more than 200 Chibok school girls. Read more »

Women and the Boko Haram Insurgency

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
A girl stands in front of soldiers from Niger and Chad in the recently retaken town of Damasak, Nigeria, March 20, 2015. Soldiers from Niger and Chad who liberated the Nigerian town of Damasak from Boko Haram militants have discovered the bodies of at least 70 people, many with their throats slit, scattered under a bridge, a Reuters witness said. (Courtesy Reuters/Emmanuel Braun) A girl stands in front of soldiers from Niger and Chad in the recently retaken town of Damasak, Nigeria, March 20, 2015. Soldiers from Niger and Chad who liberated the Nigerian town of Damasak from Boko Haram militants have discovered the bodies of at least 70 people, many with their throats slit, scattered under a bridge, a Reuters witness said. (Courtesy Reuters/Emmanuel Braun)

This is a guest post by Claire Wilmot, an intern for the Council on Foreign Relations Africa Program. She is a master of global affairs candidate at the University of Toronto.

In June 2014, Nigeria experienced its first attack by a female suicide bomber. Since then, Boko Haram has increasingly used girls and women as operatives in suicide attacks on soft targets. According to the Nigeria Security Tracker, Female suicide bombers have been responsible for over 200 deaths since May 2015, nearly half of all casualties from Boko Haram-attributed suicide bombings during this period. Read more »

Nigeria Security Tracker: Weekly Update August 1-August 8

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 August 1, 2015 to August 8, 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 »