After Boko Haram attacked Baga, each country bordering the lake supplied a couple of thousand soldiers to an effort called the Multi-National Joint Task Force, which receives intelligence from Western partners. But coöperation among the countries is fragile. One day, at the task-force base in N’Djamena, I met the commander, a wiry, deadly serious Nigerian major general named Leo Irabor. He sat at an imposing desk, with a wall of maps behind him. I told him that I hoped to embed with his troops and to travel north of the lake, west through the desert into Niger, and then south into Nigeria. “It is a fine idea,” Irabor said. “But it is not possible,” because the M.N.J.T.F. doesn’t conduct cross-border operations. The military sectors are divided along national boundaries, and the countries have a history of mistrust—especially between the government of anglophone Nigeria and those of the other countries, which are francophone. Soldiers can pursue militants across borders, if necessary, but only Boko Haram fights as if the borders don’t exist. “None of the partner countries want to end up shouldering most of the burden,” a Western military adviser to the M.N.J.T.F. told me, with a shrug. “We can’t want it to work more than they do.”
The M.N.J.T.F. doesn’t fight for new ground in the islands during the rainy season—the weather can damage vehicles and leave fighters stranded—but, in the past two dry seasons, it has taken significant territory back from Boko Haram, spurring defections. Last year, on August 25th, seven Boudouma men and one woman showed up at an M.N.J.T.F. checkpoint in Chad, near the border with Nigeria. For more than a year, they had been living with Boko Haram; now they wanted to come home. By the end of 2016, around three hundred men and seven hundred women and children had returned. They were kept in military detention in Baga Sola while the government figured out what to do with them.
Eventually, all the women and children were let go, and it fell to the U.N. to reunite them with other people from their villages among the scattered displacement sites. “There was a big risk that they wouldn’t be welcome—that they would be stigmatized or retaliated against,” Méhaule, of OCHA, said. “But the reintegration was surprisingly easy.”
Many islanders have sought refuge in displacement sites on the mainland. “Often we eat nothing,” one chief said.Photograph by Paolo Pellegrin / Magnum for The New Yorker
One afternoon, at the Mélea displacement site, near Bol, I met a twelve-year-old boy whom I’ll call Aboudou. He looked about half his age. He wore ragged green pants, a filthy shirt, and, despite the scorching temperatures, a yellow woollen hat, which he pulled down over his eyes whenever he started to cry. His face was marked with the traditional scarification of the Boudouma—a deep cut down the center of the nose, and diagonal marks on each cheek—and his skin was so taut that you could see his jaw muscles move when he spoke.
Aboudou, his parents, and his four younger siblings had been kidnapped by Boko Haram, during the attack on Médi Kouta, near Bougourmi. The family had canoed with the jihadis for two weeks, until they reached the island of Boka, in southern Niger, where his mother and father built a house out of red water lilies. Each day, Aboudou and several hundred other children were given religious lessons by a man named Mal Moussa, who, Aboudou said, taught them that “if you kill an infidel, you will go to paradise.”
Life on Boka was hard. Sometimes Aboudou’s mother would try to talk to him about the abduction, but if someone else came near she quickly changed the subject. Most nights, his father disappeared, and he didn’t know why. People who disobeyed orders were beheaded. Eventually, the island ran out of food, and they moved to another one, to harvest maize.
One day, airplanes came and bombed all the huts. A piece of shrapnel pierced Aboudou’s shoulder. He had fifteen friends on the island, but when the attack was over all of them were dead. After that, his family fled to Chad, where they were detained by the military. He was much more afraid of the uniformed soldiers than he was of Boko Haram.
Aboudou’s mother confirmed his account. When I asked whether her husband had participated in jihadi raids on the nights he disappeared, she said she didn’t know. “He never told me what he did, and I never asked,” she said. When I asked to speak with him, she said that it was impossible—he was on his way to the market. But he had brought Aboudou to me a few hours earlier, and now I saw him, about fifty feet away, staring at us from his hut.
The Chadian military didn’t know what to do with the returning men. Many of them had received weapons training from Boko Haram, and some had carried out attacks. Méhaule advised the government to screen them, identify and prosecute perpetrators of crimes, and let the others go. “But the government had no capacity to do this,” he told me. “It’s expensive to feed three hundred people, so, in January, they just released them. All of them.”
This year, several hundred more people have returned. “Those who had left to join Boko Haram learned that the humanitarian community is here, giving people food to eat, giving people money,” Souapebe, the government official, told me. “That’s why people started coming back.” To encourage further defections, he said, “I buy phone credit for the local boys. Then they call their friends in Boko Haram and tell them, ‘We’re O.K. We have food. We have shelter. The humanitarians have given us blankets.’ ” He continued, “When someone is no longer hungry, he is no longer dangerous.”
One of the boys who had voluntarily joined Boko Haram came back to Chad because, he told me, “Boko Haram lied to us about the money. All I saw was poverty and death.”Terima kasih karena kunjungan Kamu di blog ini dan membaca tulisan Lake Chad: The World’s Most Complex Humanitarian Disaster. Semoga Bermanfaat dan Selamat Menikmati berita ini :)