After rampaging across the region for years, forcing more than two million people to flee their homes and farms, Boko Haram appears to be falling victim to a major food crisis of its own creation.
Farmers have fled, leaving behind fallow fields. Herdsmen have rerouted cattle drives to avoid the violence. Throughout the region, entire villages have emptied, leaving a string of ghost towns with few people for Boko Haram to dominate — and little for the group to plunder.
Across parts of northeastern Nigeria and border regions like the Far North, trade has come to a halt and tens of thousands of people are on the brink of famine, United Nations officials say. Markets have shut down because vendors have nothing to sell, and even if they did, many buyers have been scared off by the suicide bombers Boko Haram sends into crowds.
The hunt for food appears to be part of what is pushing Boko Haram deeper into Cameroon, according to an American State Department review of attacks in the first few weeks of this year.
Such attacks are becoming increasingly common in the areas bordering Boko Haram’s base in northeastern Nigeria. A military campaign by Nigeria and its neighbors has chased fightersfromvillages they once controlled. Now, officials contend, the militants are left to scrounge for food in the sparse Sambisa Forest during the dry season, or go out raiding for whatever they can find.
“Their supply routes are blocked,” said Brig. Gen. Rabe Abubakar, a Nigerian military spokesman. “They’re hungry.”
This week, dozens of emaciated Boko Haram fighters, along with captive women and children, surrendered to military officials in Nigeria, a situation the authorities expect to repeat itself in coming weeks.
“They have nowhere to go,” General Abubakar said.
keyboard shortcuts: V vote up article J next comment K previous comment