Through our eyes: People’s perspectives on building peace in northeast Nigeria

Since 2009, Jama’atu Ahl al-Sunnah li-Da’awati wal-Jihadh, commonly known as Boko Haram, has been engaged in a violent insurgency in northeast Nigeria. Boko Haram’s campaign and state responses to it have led to at least 25,000 civilian deaths, the widespread destruction of property, 2.1 million people displaced, 5.1 million people facing acute food insecurity, the crippling of an already ravaged local economy, and what the United Nations (UN) deemed in 2016 to be the ‘worst humanitarian crisis on the African continent’. Responses by Nigerian, regional and international governments and non-state allied armed groups have focused heavily upon a securitised response to the crisis. While these efforts have led to Boko Haram experiencing significant military losses in recent years, they have also resulted in further loss of life among civilians caught up in counterinsurgency operations. Furthermore, it remains dangerously optimistic to claim, as Nigerian officials have repeatedly done, that Boko Haram has been defeated. Military losses, a decline in funding and internal divisions have seen Boko Haram abandon its attempt to hold territory and return to the low-cost but deadly guerrilla insurgency of the past, in which civilians once again bear the brunt of the violence.

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