UNICEF on Boko Haram: “More than 1.000 children abducted since 2013”

The release of 82 girls abducted by Boko Haram The release of 82 girls abducted by Boko Haram EPA

18 April 2018

Ten years on, the conflict with Boko Haram continues to produce civilian victims in Nigeria, especially among children

On 13 April 2018, the United Nations International Children’s Fund (UNICEF) released an official statement condemning the ongoing violence against children,which has been perpetrated by extremist Islamist group Boko Haram since 2013. This statement comes one day before the anniversary of the abduction of 276 girls in the town of Chibok in North-Eastern Nigeria in 2014, which shocked the international community. UNICEF reports that there have been more than 1,000 verified abduction cases. Further, 2,295 teachers have been killed during the conflict and at least 1,400 schools have been destroyed.

Jamaatu Ahlis Sunna Liddaawati wal-Jihad, commonly referred to as Boko Haram, is an armed group created in 2002 in the Nigerian state of Borno. Its aim is to establish puritanical Islamic rule in the country and prohibit any kind of participation of Muslims in Western-influenced activities, which is why laic schools have been specifically targeted.  The name ‘Boko Haram’ itself means “Western education is forbidden” in Hausa language. Since its creation, the military group has deployed increasingly aggressive guerilla tactics, beginning with gunmen on motorbikes targeting politicians or opponents to its rhetoric. By 2013, the violence had escalated to include indiscriminate violence against civilians, such as abductions, killings, rapes, looting, and forced marriages.

In 2015, president Muhammadu Buhari won the presidential election in Nigeria on the back of promises to defeat Boko Haram. However, these promises have not eventuated. The conflict, now in its tenth year, continues, with the latest case of abduction occurring in February of this year, with 100 girls abducted from the town of Dapchi. Little progress has been made towards an agreement with the group and one third of the girls kidnapped in Chibok remain unaccounted for. National and international actors need to work together  to end the violence, paying particular attention to the reintegration of victims back into society, which has been largely unsuccessful thus far.


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