Foreign Minister Maas opened an international conference on the Lake Chad region in Berlin on 3 September, where he appealed for solidarity with the suffering people there.
In the run-up to the conference, Maas said on 2 September:
The Lake Chad region has not only been the scene of one of the largest humanitarian dramas of our time for the last few years. The region has also become a stamping ground for groups such as Boko Haram and the so-called Islamic State, which pose a threat to our security in Europe, too. We cannot afford to look away when our neighbours’ neighbours are being destabilised.
The governments of Germany, Nigeria and Norway and the United Nations jointly organised the conference, which was being attended by more than 70 delegations from governments, regional and international organisations and civil society representatives.
The conference participants met to discuss how to better dovetail humanitarian assitance, stabilisation measures and development cooperation in the Lake Chad region.
Last Friday (31 August), Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon, under the aegis of the African Union and the Lake Chad Basin Commission, adopted a stabilisation strategy which was discussed at the conference.
The participants announced that they would make available a total of 2.17 billion US dollars for the Lake Chad region in the coming years. Development banks pledged an additional 467 million US dollars in low-interest loans.
Foreign Minister Maas stated on 3 September:
We stand united so the Lake Chad region, which is actually an economic hub between North and Sub-Saharan Africa, does not become a hub for terrorism, crime and human smuggling.
The Lake Chad region, where the borders of Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon converge, is the scene of one of the world’s biggest humanitarian crises.
Once a crucial interface between the Sahara and the southern part of Africa, the Lake Chad region now faces many major challenges, including famine, violence, drought and displacement.
For eight years, the Islamist Boko Haram group has been terrorising the population: over 30,000 people have been killed and more than 2.3 million men, women and children displaced. Even though the four countries’ armed forces, working together, have largely succeeded in driving the terrorists back, an important partial victory, kidnappings and suicide attacks continue to threaten people’s lives on a daily basis. The humanitarian situation remains critical – more than ten million people are dependent on humanitarian assistance.
Yet this is not all: in addition to Boko Haram, other terrorist groups, such as the so-called Islamic State, and organised crime are destabilising the region, thus also making it a trouble spot with regard to Europe’s security.
Germany is helping the people in the Lake Chad region – over the last two years alone it has earmarked more than 150 million euros for humanitarian assistance. To mark the conference, Maas announced that Germany would make available an additional 100 million euros for humanitarian assistance in the region until 2020. What is more, Germany would provide 40 million euros in funding for stabilisation and prevention – of which around 30 million euros will be new commitments.
Furthermore, Germany is promoting cross-border cooperation in the region. This includes a meeting of the governors from all four countries in Nigeria in May to promote cooperation at all government levels. In September 2017, government representatives from the Lake Chad region gathered in Berlin to meet international partners.