The Reintegration Enigma: Interventions for Boko Haram deserters in the Lake Chad Basin

In the Lake Chad Basin area, waves of Boko Haram members have deserted the violent extremist group since August 2016. Those who voluntarily leave the group are often referred to as deserters, returnees or repenters. While these three categories are not mutually exclusive, creating clear distinctions between them presents a conceptual challenge with potential policy implications for the region. This report explores the factors underlying desertion from the group, as understood by community, development and security actors in the region. It emphasises the importance of processing and categorising the various kinds of deserters within the broader context of preventing and countering violent extremism. Specific contextual challenges make new-generation desertion, de-incentivisation, rehabilitation and reintegration (DDRR) approaches emerging from the demobilisation and disengagement of violent extremists particularly relevant in the area.