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Boko Haram’s Reign Of Terror Forces 800 People To Flee Per Day

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Abduction of schoolgirls and unrelenting attacks on civilians may be the tip of the iceberg, highlights a new briefing paper released today by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC), raising concerns of the geopolitical threat Nigeria’s Boko Haram poses to the region.

A new briefing paper by IDMC highlights violence and abuses perpetrated by Nigeria’s most notorious Islamist insurgent group, Boko Haram, and the scale of internal displacement provoked by its campaign of terror. According to government authorities,* a total of 3.3 million people have been internally displaced in the country due to violence, including by that caused by Boko Haram.

In addition to the daily horrors perpetrated by Boko Haram against civilians, the IDMC briefing paper highlights concern regarding the group’s apparent efforts to establish a transnational presence and acquire greater international visibility.

‘As the government struggles to contain the group’s southward spread towards Abuja, questions to the future of regional stability have been raised which have weakened Nigeria’s relations with Cameroon, Niger and Chad’ says Alfredo Zamudio, Director of IDMC.  ’ The group is growing in its ambition, capability and reach, creating fears that it will become a regional destabilising force, on par with Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in Central Africa.’

Says Jan Egeland, the Secretary General of the Norwegian Refugee Council: ‘What we have learnt from past experiences of managing the humanitarian impact of armed groups, such as the LRA, is that speed is of the essence’.  He continues ‘The longer such groups are allowed to continue these horrific abuses, the more visibility and notoriety they gain, the harder it becomes to control their spread and impact – they must be stopped, and they must be stopped now’.

IDMC’s report highlights that despite counterinsurgency operations and the imposition of a state of emergency by the Nigerian government in May 2013, Boko Haram attacks have escalated in frequency and impact, resulting in the deaths of at least 3,300 people so far in 2014 and forcing at least 250,000 people to flee their homes between May of last year and March.

‘Suffering of civilians is the terrible dividend of this violent reality, and children are particularly on the front line here’ says Zamudio. ‘We are hearing reports of the brutal killings and maimings, forced recruitment and abduction of children, rape and sexual violence, forced marriage of young girls and children now orphaned as a result of being separated from their parents during flight’.

The future of Nigeria’s economy has also been seriously impacted. Over 60% of the region’s farmers were displaced just before the start of the planting season, sparking worries of severe food insecurity and escalating food prices. Displaced people, and the fellow citizens who are offering refuge to them, are among the worst affected. For example, many families have been forced to significantly reduce their food consumption in order to survive.

‘While Nigeria had made some steps towards developing solutions to displacement in the form of legal frameworks, many remain stalled,’ says Zamudio. ‘They must be put back on the top of the agenda so as a clear action plan can be developed to guide Nigeria’s response to this overwhelming displacement crisis. The government must fulfill its responsibilities to protect its people in the face of Boko Haram, and establishing a strong rule of law on displacement is an important signal that it is taking this responsibility seriously.’

Image courtesy of BBC

 

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