“Khadija” was just 8 years old when Boko Haram fighters attacked her village in northeast Nigeria and took her by force to their camp. Her abductors tried to marry her and other captives to members of the armed Islamist group, she told me. When the captives refused, they were locked in a room.
Fourteen-year-old Fanta lives in a tent in a settlement in Zamaï, a village in the Far North Region of Cameroon with her mother and two brothers. They came here more than a year ago after her father and elder brother were murdered and her elder sister abducted by the extremist group Boko Haram.
“They forcefully took us away and kept us like prisoners,” Lydia Musa, a former Boko Haram captive who was abducted at the age of 14 during an attack on her village in Gwoza, in Nigeria’s north eastern Borno State, tells IPS. Musa and two other underaged girls were captured and forced to marry Boko Haram fighters in spite of their protests that they were too young to marry.
Though still fearful for her life and the safety of her family, one of the girls who escaped abduction by Boko Haram in Nigeria has appealed to global leaders to intervene and help bring back 195 schoolgirls still being held by the terrorist network.
Years of violence and unrest in North-East Nigeria have left millions of people at risk of starving to death. Both the violent up surging of Boko Haram and the government’s harsh military crackdown have left already historically marginalised communities with next to nothing.
Children under five years of age are not surviving due to severe food shortages in some parts of the Lake Chad region, says Toby Lanzer, UN Assistant Secretary-General and Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Sahel.
Tears spring to Aichatou Njoya’s eyes as she recalls the day Islamic militants from Boko Haram arrived on her doorstep in Nigeria.
A recent study supported by the government of Finland has found widespread misconceptions regarding what drives people to join Islamist militant groups like Boko Haram.
With over 1.5 million displaced, 800,000 of whom are children, and continuously escalating violence in northeastern Nigeria, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon described the humanitarian situation as “particularly worrying” during a visit to the country.
“Poverty has become part of me,” says 13-year-old Aminata Kabangele from the Democratic Republic of Congo. “I have learned to live with the reality that nobody cares for me.”
Nigeria seems in no haste to unveil its climate pledge with just four months to go before the U.N. Climate Conference scheduled for December in Paris.
Boko Haram, fleeing to a new hideout, has abandoned hundreds of women and girls in the Sambisa forest where the high school girls from Chibok were initially taken over one year ago. It is not certain, however, that the freed girls and women were part of the 200 plus kidnapped victims of Boko Haram, officials say.
Cameroon’s government under President Paul Biya is bearing down on a separatist movement fighting for the rights of a minority English-language region, using as its weapon a sweeping new anti-terrorism law introduced at the end of last year.
After several tension-filled months, a majority of Nigerians swept in an opposition leader and former military man, Muhammadu Buhari, to succeed incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan, whose failure to contain a terrorist wave in the northern states doomed his re-election chances.
With kidnappings and violent attacks almost a daily occurrence in Nigeria, the disappearance of an American missionary appears to have stirred a new wave of outrage among the international community at the worsening conditions in the West African country, once considered a rising star and the largest economy on the continent.
“I’d quit my job before going to work in a place like that.” That is how a primary school teacher responded when IPS asked him why he had not accepted a job in Cameroon’s Far North region.
Legislators in Cameroon have voted in a draft law proposing the death sentence for all those guilty of carrying out, abetting or sponsoring acts of terrorism. The draft law, which is now being examined by the Cameroon Senate, call for punishment acts of terrorism committed by citizens, either individually or in complicity, with death.
The simultaneity presented by the outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus on one hand and militant barbarism ostensibly in the name of Islam on the other present the international development community - particularly the United Nations and international NGOs – with challenges, as well as opportunities.
Motari Hamissou used to get along well with his pupils at the government primary school in Sabga, an area in Bamenda, the capital of Cameroon’s North West Region.
In the past, Hamissou also lived in peace with his neighbours. No one was bothered by his long, thick beard or the veil his wife, Aisha Hamissou, wore, or the religion they followed.
The search for the Nigerian schoolgirls abducted by Islamist extremist group, Boko Haram, could be hampered by a series of policy and information flip-flops by the government, the latest one of them being a public disagreement on policy between the president and the military chief.
As the African Union is set to celebrate its 51st birthday on May 25, it does so as the continent remains caught up in a tide of terrorist conflicts, which many analysts feel the AU has done little to resolve.