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Nigeria in turmoil: Three years on since the Chibok schoolgirls kidnapping

Nigeria in turmoil: Three years on since the Chibok schoolgirls kidnapping

The town of Chibok in Nigeria became famous overnight on the 14 April 2014 when Boko Haram abducted 276 schoolgirls and the world responded with the #bringbackourgirls campaign. Three years on since that fatal day, we take a look at the situation communities and girls in Nigeria continue to face under the terror of Boko Haram. 

Kidnappings and slavery

While some girls have managed to escape, roughly 196 girls of the 276 Chibok schoolgirls are still unaccounted for. But it’s not just the Chibok girls that have disappeared. The stories of further kidnappings, including a group of 300 school children and women in 2016, and Boko Haram’s child brides and child soldiers, shockingly, are all too prevalent. In north-east Nigeria alone, over 7,000 women and girls have been subjected to Boko Haram-related sexual violence, including forced marriage, rape, abduction, and slavery.

Loveth is now back in the school and hopes to become a midwife after her ordeal of being taken by Boko Haram
Loveth is now back in the school and hopes to become a midwife after her ordeal of being taken by Boko Haram

In the region, we’re rolling out programmes to help reunite mothers with their children and relatives that have escaped Boko Haram. We’re also assisting families with child protection and providing safe spaces for children to learn, play and interact with their friends. At these spaces, children have access to psychosocial support so they can move on from the trauma they’ve suffered. So far, over 3,000 vulnerable children have benefitted from our work.

For the Nigerian refugees who have fled to safer communities in Niger, we are educating parents and communities on the negative impacts of violence and are creating community-led groups that prevent, identify and report cases of violence.

Violent attacks and economic insecurity 

Boko Haram, whose name means “Western education is forbidden” in the original Hausa, has made no secret of its strong opposition to education. Schools are often among the first targets when the terrorist group attacks communities. 

To date, 17 million people have been affected by the violent attacks of Boko Haram. The violence has led to among 1.5 million children being forced to flee their homes in the region over the past seven years. 10-year-old Falmata took refuge in Niger four years ago: 

Before the attacks by Boko Haram, we lived happily in our homes. Then we had to leave everything, abandoning our house and community. People were slaughtered and houses burnt down. It was a horrific and traumatic experience.

We’re responding to the insecurity by providing households with vocational training and equipment so women are able to set up new businesses and bring in new income to provide for their families. We’re also training teachers and supplying children with school materials so they can continue to learn despite the violence. 

Hunger has followed in the wake of terror 

The insecurity has also led to food and health problems. Farmers are keeping away from their farms which has exacerbated the food crisis and rates of malnutrition are rising sharply. Some 7.1 million people in the region are facing hunger, and an estimated 515,000 severely acutely malnourished children could die if not urgently assisted. 

With the ongoing disruption to basic services the likelihood of waterborne diseases, such as diarrhoea and cholera, is also growing.

We’re responding to the food crisis in Nigeria by providing food to over 16,000 people. We’re also providing cash to 1,000 households with a particular focus on supporting people with disabilities, pregnant and breastfeeding mums, households led by children and female victims of sexual violence. 

How you can help children and women in Nigeria

While the violence is causing untold misery and suffering for millions of people, we can make a difference to children and women’s lives in Nigeria today. Your donations enable us to ensure women and children are better protected from the violence, emotionally supported to move on from the violence they have endured, receive essential training so they can earn an income, and receive life-saving aid so they can feed their families. 

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