This year, 2021, commemorates the 12th anniversary of Mohamed Yusuf’s extrajudicial death in police custody in Borno State, Nigeria, and the beginning of a new and terrible chapter in Boko Haram’s growth.
According to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the battle in northeast Nigeria with Islamist insurgents had killed over 350,000 people as of the end of 2020. The death toll is ten times greater than earlier estimates from 2019, which put the death toll at around 35,000 people.
With sustained and coordinated backing from the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF), the Nigerian military has been effectively executing Operation Lafiya Dole since 2015, resulting in the progressive opening up and easing of access to formerly held regions.
By March 2018, two major rebel factions were still active and fighting the government: Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati Wal-Jihad (JAS), a Non-State Armed Group (NSAG) based primarily in southern Borno State and dubbed “Boko Haram” by the media; Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), which split from Boko Haram in 2016 and is based primarily near Lake Chad and along Nigeria’s northern border with Niger.
In the three Boko Haram-affected states of Borno, Adamawa, and Yobe, the conflict has resulted in significant devastation of essential infrastructure, health and educational institutions, commercial structures, private residences, and agricultural assets. Nigeria’s fight against insurgent Islamists has created one of the world’s greatest humanitarian crises, with millions of people in need of assistance.
The high degree of insecurity has severely hampered freedom of movement, limiting access to essential services, farms, markets, and other sources of income, resulting in high unemployment and poor economic involvement. Due to military constraints, a substantial percentage of agricultural areas have been damaged and are inaccessible. Northeast Nigeria did more cross-border trade than the rest of Nigeria prior to the insurgency. Trade has been severely hampered by border restrictions, unsafe transportation routes, and the demolition of markets.
Women and children are in an especially precarious condition. Sexual assault against women and girls, as well as trafficking and kidnapping, is common yet underreported. At least 49,500 girls and boys, according to authorities, have been exposed to armed group recruitment and other serious child rights violations. Many of the women and girls kidnapped by non-state armed groups are raped, forced into marriage and labor, physically, sexually, and/or mentally tortured, exposed to sexually transmitted illnesses, and frequently impregnated by their captors. There are no signs that the conflict will be resolved any time soon.