Conflict and Fragility

Reports and papers

Northern Benin and risk of violent extremist spillover

10 Jun 2021 - 12:00
Source: © Julien Gerard
Laws of Attraction

This is a joint report produced by the Conflict Research Unit of Clingendael - the Netherlands Institute of International Relations in partnership with the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED).

For many years analysts have warned against the risk of spill over of violence from the Sahel into the littoral states. Recently, Bernard Émié, the French head of the Direction Générale de la Sécurité Extérieure (DGSE) for example singled out Benin and Côte d’Ivoire as being at imminent danger.

Yet the fear of violent contagion to coastal West Africa is so far mostly based on repeating a handful of violent incidents: the 2020 Kafolo attack and the 2016 Grand Bassam attack (both in Côte d’Ivoire); the 2019 Pendjari attack in Benin; sightings of Violent extremist organizations (VEOs) and roaming preachers.

We know, however, that VEOs expand by building local alliance and exploit existing communal conflict. This report explores local problems in one country possibly at risk: Benin, specifically the Northern regions of Alibori, Borgou and Atacora. Data collected for this project with the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED) reveals various open communal conflicts in Benin’s north that have become intense and lethal.

The analysis observes the presence of five separate cells in the border areas of northern Benin but concludes that as of yet there is no clear alignments between communal violence and VEOs. But there are worrying developments as VEO activity is increasing in Alibori and Atacora. The window to act seems to be closing.

Read online report.