Is this the way forward? Chad declares a state of emergency following Boko Haram attack

On the 9th of November, 2015, the government of Chad declared a state of emergency in the Lake Chad region, now an infamous watering hole for militants from the terrorist group, Boko Haram. The area is a regular target for attacks evident from the recent suicide bombing that left two people dead in Chad and a similar attack that claimed three lives in nearby Cameroon. Earlier in October, 41 people were killed following an attack at the Baga Sola market in the Lake Chad region.

The declaration gives the region’s governor authority to place a ban on the movement of people and vehicles in the area, as well as a mandate allowing the searching of homes and other suspected hideouts to expose the terrorists and recover arms. The area serves as a strategic point in the fight against the deadly group as it hedges Chad with Cameroon, Nigeria (the group’s country of origin) and Niger.

So far, more than 5,000 soldiers from the Chadian army have been deployed to villages in the area to help in the fight against Boko Haram and the Chadian government has shown continuous commitment to the regional military operation established for the cause.

According to the government of Chad, a lack of finances is a major impediment in the fight against Boko Haram. Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chad’s Foreign Minister, sought financial support from other African countries, yesterday at the Dakar International Forum on Peace and Security, in Dakar, Senegal.

The army’s deployment managed to reduce the areas attacked by the militant group in the beginning, but the group appears to be making a comeback with more attacks recently, particularly with raids and bombings in the flashpoint Lake Chad region, prompting this declaration of a state of emergency.

Christian Wabnitz, the Operations Coordinator in Lake Chad for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) attributes the triggering of intercommunal tensions to the ongoing violence, as it tears communities apart and eats away at the country’s economy.

According to Toby Lanzer, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for the Sahel, the events in Chad can contribute to the growing migrant crisis which the European Union is presently faced with, as displaced Chadians may join the groups fleeing to Europe to escape similar situations and general hardship in their homelands.

Declaring a state of emergency in Chad would allow the government to address the disturbances in the region with more clarity, while it executes its developmental plans for the economy, which includes a focus on the health and education sectors. President Idriss Deby recently granted a $4 billion fund to this effect through the country’s Finance Minister.

On the other hand, a state of emergency, if not executed or handled adequately, could cost the Chadian government a lot in this case as well as putting the lives of the region’s inhabitants at even more risk. Economically, it poses the risk of worsening Chad’s already unstable situation, which is constantly under threat from droughts and floods.

The Maldives declared a state of emergency, but the government was forced to revoke it yesterday, barely a week after it commenced, due to a lack of domestic and international support.

Although the circumstances differ, it may be in Chad’s best interest to take all the necessary factors into consideration, such as deciding how much time the country is giving itself to tackle the insurgency. This and many other issues need to be addressed in order to enable the citizens in the area to get back to some sense of normalcy and safety.

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