Bloody " new message" received

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What happened?

More than 70 Nigerian farmers killed by Boko Haram militants in Northeast city of Nigeria: breached agreement with Islamist group cost farmers from the city of Zabarmari their lives.

“A new message" sent by the Nigerian jihadist group Boko Haram in a form of a massacre that happened on 28 of November followed by a released video with where they claim the responsibility.

What is the story?

Boko Haram - the radical Islamic sect that controls parts of Nigeria -, and its offshoots have terrorized northeastern Nigeria, as well as parts of Cameroon, Chad and Niger, for more than a decade. A group is known for abducting schoolgirls and killing tens of thousands of people. In 2015 Boko Haram became the largest affiliate of the Islamic State, after months of strengthening its media presence and courting the jihadist group.

When Muhammadu Buhari was elected president in 2015, it was partly on a promise to use his expertise as an army general to resolve the crisis.

However over a million people in mostly agricultural northeast Nigeria “have largely been left at the mercy of Boko Haram by a government whose security forces have mainly retreated from the countryside to protected garrison towns.”

For years, the farmers had an agreement with Boko Haram militants: they could tend their fields in peace, as long as they did not report the fighters’ presence to the Nigerian Army.

As reported in the New York Times:

“Villagers are caught in a deadly Catch-22. If they report the militants to the Nigerian authorities, they risk gruesome reprisals by Boko Haram. If they stay silent, they risk the wrath of the Nigerian military, which has been accused of routinely shooting villagers dead and burning their houses down during raids, as well as detaining people for years in inhumane conditions.”

Villagers complain of being accused by both parties whenever they try to stay safe. What had motivated Boko Haram for the massacre this time isn’t clear. Villagers have different theories: one said a member of Boko Haram had come to the village and asked a local woman to cook him some food. She told her neighbors, who tipped off the authorities, and the militant was arrested; another said that the military had raided Boko Haram’s camp, confiscating a gun and some motorcycles. Yet another said that soldiers had caught a militant on a motorcycle when they were on patrol.

As reported in Le Monde:

“Attacks attributed to Boko Haram and the rival splinter faction Islamic State in West Africa (Iswap) increasingly target loggers, ranchers and fishermen. They accuse them of spying and transmitting information to the military and militias fighting jihadist violence in the region.”

After more than 10 years of conflict between Boko Haram and the Nigerian military, the situation is only getting worse according to Luiz Eguiluz, the head of mission of MSF in Nigeria. The conflict is intensifying and the needs are massive

Why care?

  • More than 32 000 people have been killed in violence since the start of the Boko Haram insurgency in 2009 in northeast Nigeria, according to Nigeria Security Tracker.

  • The United Nations estimates that there are more than 2 million people who have been displaced from their homes due to violence and more than 7 million who depend entirely on humanitarian aid to survive. 

  • Amnesty International estimates that, in the context of the Boko Haram crisis, at least 10,000 people have died in custody since 2011, many of them in Giwa Barracks. The organization reviewed more than 120 images of corpses brought from the barracks to a local mortuary, and spoke to individuals with insider knowledge who estimated that 15-25% of those who have perished are older men. This is disproportionately high, as older men appear to account for no more than 4% of the population in Northeast Nigeria. In April 2017 alone, 166 corpses were transferred from Giwa to the mortuary.

What to do?

  • Support Boko Haram victims suffering from trauma physically and mentally with ChildVoice: “Thousands of war-affected adolescent girls live in IDP camps in northeastern Nigeria. Many of them have been traumatized by violence and enslavement by Boko Haram and other violent insurgent groups, often becoming child-mothers while in captivity.”

  • Become a friend of INWELLE Study and Resource Center - working among others to stop the trafficking of girls and women.

  • Don’t hesitate to give to Given to Give - NGO provide targeted help to the most deprived groups of people. Check out their campaigns and projects.

To go further:

  1. Check this NY Times photo-story about the kidnapping of more than 200 girls from the school in Nigeria;

  2. Check this Amnesty International’s report about how older people suffer the most from the atrocities  of the conflict in Northeast Nigeria;

  3. Read the book Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie - a Nigerian writer who masterfully recreates a crucial moment in modern African history.

While I was finishing this story another shocking news came in: Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau on Tuesday claimed responsibility for the kidnapping of several hundred high school students in northwestern Nigeria, in an area far from their stronghold, marking an important turning point in the jihadist group's expansion. At least 333 adolescents have been reported missing since the attack on their boarding school in Kankara, Katsina state, on the night of Friday December 11 to Saturday December 12. More than a hundred armed men on motorcycles attacked this rural public school and while some high school students managed to escape, others were caught up, separated into several groups and taken away by attackers, according to residents contacted. by Agence France-Presse (AFP).  
Almost the same scenario happened 6 years ago, when 200 girls were kidnapped from school and kept in slavery. More than half of them are still considered missing.

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