The National Committee for Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration has been set up in Cameroon. A statement from the Cameroonian government said that the program aims to provide “a framework for the reception and social reintegration of ex Boko Haram militants and members of armed groups operating in the North and South West regions of the country.”
According to the statement, the Committee will be headed by a someone under the supervision of the Prime Minister, while centres will be opened in Mora (in the Far North), Bamenda (in the North West) and Buea (in the South West). These centres will provide a framework for disarmament, demobilisation, and reintegration.
This is undoubtedly one of the best places to start, as most young men join the likes of Boko Haram purely for financial benefit. Although there are issues with these types of reintegration programs it’s a good foundation to build on. Nonetheless, to curb the ever-growing ranks of Boko Haram and show that there is indeed a life for those who joined such groups after they leave is a positive campaign in the region.
You cannot win an ideological war based on pure military intervention, offering those people who have made mistakes in the past a new life may be able to deter the young men in the region from joining the likes of Boko Haram.
With all that said, reintegration programs can backfire if they are implemented too early. So if you are a young man who joins the likes of Boko Haram and you have an easy option of getting back out and back into civilian life, there is no real danger of joining such organisations. One of the issues that the Cameroonian government should be worried about is offering an easy way out and into the likes of Boko Haram. Those that join must face the music and pay for the crimes that they have committed before a reintegration programme can be offered to these individuals.
Some critics in Cameroon have suggested that the government has implemented this program too early. Let’s not forget that much of this year there has been an uprising in the southwest of the country, where the English-speaking individuals known as the separatists have been rebelling against the government. One of the concerns should be that you are allowing such separatist organisations to re-arm and regroup in a peaceful manner, so that in the future they may launch a fresh wave of attacks on government forces.
I am a fan of reintegration programs, particularly within these poor regions, purely because I know that many young men will wrongfully join these terrible organisations to feed their families. I am wise enough to know military intervention — and solely military intervention — does not work, as we have experienced in the past time and time again. I wish the Cameroonian government all the best in their endeavours, and will keep a close eye on this programme.