October 13, 2016
Boko Haram is a militant Islamic group based in Nigeria, Africa. The group is opposed to any activity that is associated with Western cultural. Founded in 2003, its goal is to create an Islamic state under strict sharia law by overthrowing the current government of Nigeria. In order to achieve this goal, members carry out brutal takeovers of towns, suicide bombings, assassinations, and abductions. The attacks have grown and become more deadly throughout the years. Thousands of people have been killed or displaced due to the havoc caused by Boko Haram.
Those captured are forced to become members. Women and girls are forced to marry and have children or become sex slaves. Boys are turned into children soldiers. There are thousands held in captivity with no sign of being freed. Boko Haram gained national attention in April 2014 when the group kidnapped nearly 300 girls in the middle of the night from their boarding school in Chibok. Some have escaped or died. Others have been married off; however, there are still many girls that are unaccounted for today.
Leaders and celebrities around the world have pleaded through social media platforms for the release of the girls using the media campaign #BringBackOurGirls. Nigeria's government is negotiating the release of the remaining girls in captivity. In early October 2016, twenty-one girls were freed as a sign of good faith. There have been reports that many of the girls that remain in captivity do not want to be released. They are fearful to go home or have become radicalized. The girls that have escaped or been released still live in fear. Members of their community do not trust them and believe the girls are still under the influence of Boko Haram.
The girls are often too traumatized or ashamed to tell their story of life in captivity. Aid groups are trying to help transition the girls back into everyday life, but it will not be an easy task. Communities are worried that Boko Haram can attack again at any time. Some of the girls have been moved to the United States as a chance to continue their education. Most recently, Boko Haram made national news when thirteen Nigerian soldiers were wounded after an encounter. An unknown number of soldiers are missing. The encounter happened in Gashigar this week. The group has been known to attack at random times and with much force. Attacks like these are happening more often. Other issues are on the rise due to Boko Haram. Lack of food is one of the largest.
Families do not have enough food to survive, which is causing severe malnutrition. Since many have been displaced to refugee camps, they do not have the supplies or means to grow food. Aid agencies are trying to help, but they are also running low on supplies. Nigerian armies have fought hard with aid from troops of neighboring countries to regain territory, but Boko Haram still prevails. The group has survived many downfalls by continuing to forcefully recruit. Boko Haram will continue to pose a threat to the government of Nigeria. The group has been able to finance itself. They raise money by robbing banks and ransom kidnappings. They receive their weapons from illegal arms trafficking and raiding Nigerian army members.