You’ve probably been hearing about the tragedy that’s going on in Nigeria at the moment, or seen the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls on various social media outlets. Here’s everything you need to know about the crisis.
The Basic Facts
On the night of April 14th the terrorist group called Boko Haram went to a Government Girls Secondary School in the state of Borno. They were heavily armed, shot the guards and kidnapped 276 girls. They disappeared into the jungle, and until families reached out on social media, not much was being done by either the Nigerian government or the world. As of now, around 53 girls have escaped, but it has also been reported that some of the girls have been sold as wives for as little as $12 to Boko Haram militants.
Who’s Boko Haram?
Boko Haram is the Hausa (Afro-Asiatic language with about 50 million speakers) name for the group which translates roughly to “deceptive” or “Western” education is “forbidden”. They are otherwise known as Congregation of the People of Tradition for Proselytism and Jihad. They are a terrorist group that started in 2002 by Mohammed Yusuf residing in northern Nigeria, north Cameroon and Niger. They seek to create pure Islamic states ruled by “sharia” or traditional law and condemn Westernization, which is the key reason they kidnapped the young girls trying to get an education. They’re also known for attacking Christians and bombing churches, schools, police stations, and kidnapping Western tourists, which have resulted in over 10,000 deaths since 2002. The US government deemed them a terrorist group in November 2013. Conflicts caused by Boko Haram have left over 90,000 people displaced. It’s unclear if they are linked to Al Qaeda or not.
What are we doing about it?
— The First Lady (@FLOTUS) May 7, 2014
So far the US, Great Britain, China and France have pledged to help find the missing girls. Britain’s Prime Minister, David Cameron went on the Andrew Marr Show holding a sign with #BringBackOurGirls as he promised that the country would do everything it could. Also, Michelle Obama tweeted a photo of herself with a similar sentiment. Pope Francis joined in the Twitter trend as well. Right now there are British and American troops looking in the forest for the girls and also working with the Nigeria military to try to find Boko Haram and disband them.
What’s the Nigerian government doing about it?
Amnesty International released a report that stated the Nigerian government was given a four hour notice before the attack. The government has come under a high amount of scrutiny by the international community for not being able to respond with enough force. The Nigerian government claims they were only able to rally 15-17 soldiers and a few police officers and they were unable to fend off over 200 Boko Haram militants. However, they also claim that immediately after the incident they responded with helicopters, troops and and airplanes. For three weeks, Nigerian citizens protested outside the capital, demanding that the government do something about the crisis. They claim that there was no support or effort to find the girls until it became an international social media trend.