Home » Jihadi violence hits Benin, shows spread across West Africa
Africa Crime Economic Featured Politick West Africa

Jihadi violence hits Benin, shows spread across West Africa

It’s been more than a year since jihadis first stormed Igor Kassah’s town in northern Benin but the priest still lives in fear. His once peaceful life is now marked by threatening phone calls and Islamic extremist diatribes tacked on church doors demanding that people leave. He is haunted by the bodies he has seen of those killed in the attacks.

“We no longer have a normal life,” the 41-year-old said through text messages to The Associated Press. “It’s hard to talk and act confidently because you don’t know who’s in front of you anymore.”

Violence by extremists linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State group has wracked much of West Africa’s inland Sahel region for more than seven years. Now it is spreading into the coastal states with Benin the hardest hit, say experts.

Jihadi attacks in Benin have spiked more than tenfold between July and December compared to the same period last year — from 2 to 25 — according to the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project. This is more than any other coastal state in West Africa. If the extremist violence continues to spread it could have far-reaching consequences, say analysts.

“When you talk about the Sahel, geopolitical interests are limited,” said Kars de Bruijne, senior research fellow with Clingendael, a Dutch-based research organization.

“But it’s different for coastal states, which are economically much stronger and more important to the African Union and Western countries such as England and the United States,” he said. These Western powers might see their interests at stake, which is a key reason why they should be really concerned about the spillover of extremist violence into Benin, he said. The more fronts the jihadis open, the more difficult it will be to effectively respond, he said.

The violence in Benin, a country of 12 million people, is largely a result of what’s happening in neighboring Burkina Faso, where jihadi attacks have killed hundreds and displaced nearly 2 million people. Attacks were initially confined to the border between eastern Burkina Faso and Benin in the W and Pendjari National Parks in the Alibori and Atacora regions, but are now expanding. Incidents have increased since June in populated areas around the parks with jihadis connected to the al-Qaida-linked group known as JNIM, pushing Benin’s military from the border creating a security vacuum and taking control of part of the country, said a recent report by Clingendael.

The jihadi rebels appear to be creating a large area of influence from Niger to Togo in order to keep supply lines open, recruit people and procure material, say analysts. Another aim could be to withstand pressure from the Accra Initiative, a military platform involving Burkina Faso and coastal countries to prevent the further spread of extremism from the Sahel.

Benin’s government has ramped up its response investing nearly $130 million to create new operating bases, fortify existing ones and recruit nearly 4,000 security forces since last year, Benin’s President Patrice Talon said in a speech earlier this month.

But the government’s increased security is bringing human rights abuses such as arbitrary arrests of those suspected of working with jihadis, particularly the ethnic Fulani who are suspected to be affiliated to Islamic extremists, say locals and rights groups.

“There is a risk that human rights violations will become systematic and worsen, as is the case in neighboring countries that have been fighting the same armed groups for several years,” said Samira Daoud, regional director for West Africa for Amnesty International.

West Africa’s coastal states and the international community haven’t learned enough from the crisis in the Sahel about how to address the insecurity, say regional experts.

“We’re watching the same dynamic play out in Benin and I’m afraid that we are trying the same strategies that failed in the Sahel,” said Laura Sanders, founder of Cetus Global a consulting company based in Benin and focused on conflict prevention in West Africa.

“There’s an opportunity to choose a different route for littoral countries in addressing the crisis, focusing on the drivers of violence and what pushes people into these armed groups, such as unresolved grievances, social marginalization, and poor governance of natural resources,” she said.

To reduce humanitarian suffering as violence increases, it’s urgent to scale up investments now in education, nutrition and health in regions bordering central Sahel countries, say aid groups.

Meanwhile, communities in Benin say they are being forced to accept a life they never thought they’d have to endure.

“We thought for a moment, perhaps because of a certain naivety … that (we) could escape the situation of threats, of near-daily attacks that (Benin) is undergoing,” said Arnaud Houenou an expert in national security and a professor at Benin’s University of Abomey Calavi.

“Benin has been spared the terrorist war in the Sahel despite its proximity to Nigeria and Burkina Faso,” he said. “But reality has set in.”

Source: AP News

About the author

Tavell Peters

Add Comment

Click here to post a comment

Instagram

Instagram has returned empty data. Please authorize your Instagram account in the plugin settings .

Advertisement

Advertisement Small

Flickr

  • Capiton
  • Neons
  • Sugar version
  • Corbeille
  • Katia
  • Les anémones
  • Rêverie
  • L'usurier
  • Ha Phurong (actress, "Cu Li never cries" - Pham Ngoc Lan) Vietnam - Berlinale 74°

ThemeForest

Collaboratively harness market-driven processes whereas resource-leveling internal or "organic" sources. Competently formulate.

Calendar

March 2024
M T W T F S S
 123
45678910
11121314151617
18192021222324
25262728293031

RSS Meks Blog

  • 10 Best Knowledge Base & Wiki WordPress Themes 2021 September 15, 2021
    Running a successful online business requires an exceptional WordPress knowledge base theme that organizes documentation and helps customers. Customization options, intuitive navigation, unique layouts, and fast responsiveness are just some of the features you need. The following 10 WordPress wiki themes represent the best options for 2021 and beyond. Explore the full range to determine […]
    Dusan Milovanovic
  • How to increase WordPress Memory Limit (quick fixes) June 16, 2021
    Here is a post about how to increase the memory limit in WordPress. Allowed memory size exhausted error message showed up in your WordPress installation? No worries – this is one of the most common errors in WordPress. You can apply an easy fix by increasing the memory limit in your PHP. Table of Contents […]
    Dusan Milovanovic
  • How to use (and why) WordPress sitemap plugin March 1, 2021
    Did you know that by knowing how to use the WordPress sitemap plugin you can significantly improve your site’s visibility and traffic? Although it isn’t mandatory to have a sitemap on your site, having one significantly improves the site’s quality, crawlability and indexing. All this is important for better optimization, which is why we wanted […]
    Ivana Cirkovic
  • 22 free and premium podcast software for your show [2021 edition] January 18, 2021
    You’re determined to start or improve your podcast but don’t know which podcast software to use to really make it stand out? We’ve got you! #podcasting Top 22 free and premium podcast software for your show #WordPressTips #podcasting The post 22 free and premium podcast software for your show [2021 edition] appeared first on Meks.
    Ivana Cirkovic
  • Digital storytelling with WordPress – an all-in-one guide to make your web stories pop! November 23, 2020
    Wondering how to improve digital storytelling with WordPress and build more awareness and exposure of your business? Let our guide lead the way. The post Digital storytelling with WordPress – an all-in-one guide to make your web stories pop! appeared first on Meks.
    Ivana Cirkovic
  • How to use WordPress autoposting plugin to improve your visibility and SEO? September 10, 2020
    Did you know you can use the WordPress autoposting plugin for your content efforts and improve not only your time management but your business and visibility as well? The post How to use WordPress autoposting plugin to improve your visibility and SEO? appeared first on Meks.
    Ivana Cirkovic
  • How to create a personal branding site? Step-by-step DIY guide August 15, 2020
    Looking for ways and means to create a personal branding site? Well, look no further ’cause we’re giving away all the how-to’s to do it yourselves! The post How to create a personal branding site? Step-by-step DIY guide appeared first on Meks.
    Ivana Cirkovic
  • Top 15 WordPress content plugins and tools to improve your visibility and rankings July 16, 2020
    Let’s take a look at some of the must-have WordPress content plugins and tools to use to improve both your UX and rankings. The post Top 15 WordPress content plugins and tools to improve your visibility and rankings appeared first on Meks.
    Ivana Cirkovic
  • WCEU 2020 recap – key takeaways from the biggest online WordPress conference June 9, 2020
    Missed WCEU 2020 and all the exciting stuff from there? Here are all the key takeaways and main points to remember so, take notes! The post WCEU 2020 recap – key takeaways from the biggest online WordPress conference appeared first on Meks.
    Ivana Cirkovic
  • How to change the WordPress username? An easy step-by-step guide May 14, 2020
    Wondering how can you change WordPress username once you set up your blog or site? Read all about it in our helpful guide! The post How to change the WordPress username? An easy step-by-step guide appeared first on Meks.
    Ivana Cirkovic

Text

Distinctively utilize long-term high-impact total linkage whereas high-payoff experiences. Appropriately communicate 24/365.