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Brutal Boko Haram

| June 11, 2015 | 0 Comments

The Nigerian army and regional peace force continues to reclaim much of the northeast of Nigeria from militant group Boko Haram (BH), whose name means ‘Western education is forbidden’.

In late March 2015, BH reportedly kidnapped 500 children aged 11 years and under, as it fled the town of Damask under heavy fire from troops from Niger, Cameroon and Chad.

BH has led a six-year Islamist insurgency that has killed at least 15 000 people. The world paid attention when BH abducted more than 200 girls from a boarding school in Chibok in April 2014.

Sources say that the militants have many ‘uses’ for the youth they kidnap. Some girls are married off, subjected to forced labour, or sold to human trafficking rings. Young boys are often forced to take up arms for BH as the group ploughs through the country.

In early May 2015, the Nigerian military announced it had rescued 234 captives from a BH stronghold in the Sambisa forest region, most of whom were pregnant girls. Five hundred other women and children were liberated just days before.

President Goodluck Jonathan was defeated in the recent March 2015 general election. His successor, former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari, who assumed office on 29 May, has vowed to crush the militants, who want to create a hard-line Islamic state in north-east Nigeria.

Fighting between BH, the country’s armed forces and civilian self-defence groups has affected hundreds of thousands of children all across Borno State. Unicef believes that more than 800 000 children have been displaced, many seeking refugee status far away from their families in neighbouring countries such as Chad, Niger and Cameroon. More than 300 schools have been damaged or destroyed and at least 196 teachers killed in that state. Two-thirds of schools in Borno remain closed following BH attacks.

Manuel Fontaine, Unicef ’s regional director for West and Central Africa, says the Chibok kidnapping was one of a series of “endless tragedies being replicated on an epic scale” across the region. In March 2015, reported The Times of India, the leader of the ISIS militant group that controls tracts of Syria and Iraq, accepted a pledge of allegiance from BH.

Category: Winter 2015

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