The U.S. has spent over $1 billion so far in aid for the peoples of West Africa since 2015, and four U.S. service members have given their lives trying to keep the peace in Nigeria. Details of the American involvement in the Lake Chad region have recently come to light during a briefing given by U.S. Foreign Service Officer Amy Tachco while addressing the U.N. Security Council on Thursday.
During the briefing Tachco and other diplomats from the Lake Chad Basin Commission praised the governments of Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon, Niger, and Benin for their efforts in the fight against Islamic terrorism, but Tachco was quick to point out that groups like Boko Haram and ISIS-West Africa still have a foothold in the region.
“The terror of Boko Haram, and its offshoot ISIS-West Africa, continues to devastate communities, families, and lives throughout the region,” Tachco said.
Tachco cited the recent kidnapping of more than 100 schoolgirls from Dapchi and the slaughter of 11 U.N. peacekeepers in a Nigerian refugee camp in Rann as indications that Islamic extremism still poses a significant threat to peace and prosperity in West Africa. Although the majority of the schoolgirls were released, Boko Haram killed five in captivity.
All is not lost in the region, however. The government of Nigeria has embarked on a new “Demobilization, Disassociation, Reintegration, and Reconciliation” strategy aimed specifically at identifying the root cause of Islamic terrorism, as well as provide much-needed aid to the people living under the threat from terrorist groups in the area. Under the new Nigerian strategy, preventing the spread of Islamic terrorism through early detection and intervention is the main priority.
“Success will not depend on military effectiveness on the battlefield alone; it also requires improvements to the economy and governance off the battlefield,” Tachco said.
Even with Nigeria’s support, the U.S. is still shouldering the majority of the burden for security in the region. Tachco called for local governments to honor their commitments outlined in Resolution 2349, which calls for increased security operations to be conducted by local forces.
“These efforts deepen people’s trust in their governments and strengthen security efforts,” Tachco said.