News / Africa

Abuja Blast Impacts Lives, Livelihoods

Paramedics treat a victim of Monday's explosion at Asokoro hospital in Abuja, Nigeria,  April 15, 2014.
Paramedics treat a victim of Monday's explosion at Asokoro hospital in Abuja, Nigeria, April 15, 2014.
Heather Murdock
In the aftermath of the worst terrorist attack on the Nigerian capital since an insurgency began in 2009, survivors say they escaped with their lives but lost everything else.  Officials say they are looking at ways to help the bombing victims and boosting security ahead of the World Economic Forum for Africa to be held in Nigeria next month.  

At this Abuja hospital, some bomb blast victims moan softly, but most sleep.  They’ve lost limbs and been burnt.

Evere Ivbezim, a fruit seller, had her jaw nearly knocked off by the blast that hit Monday as she was boarding a bus, killing 71 people and injuring at least 124 others.
But, she says, it's not just lives that were lost.
A man rests in the hospital after 71 people were killed and 124 injured when a bomb exploded at a bus station just outside Abuja, Nigeria, April 15, 2014. (Heather Murdock for VOA)A man rests in the hospital after 71 people were killed and 124 injured when a bomb exploded at a bus station just outside Abuja, Nigeria, April 15, 2014. (Heather Murdock for VOA)
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A man rests in the hospital after 71 people were killed and 124 injured when a bomb exploded at a bus station just outside Abuja, Nigeria, April 15, 2014. (Heather Murdock for VOA)
A man rests in the hospital after 71 people were killed and 124 injured when a bomb exploded at a bus station just outside Abuja, Nigeria, April 15, 2014. (Heather Murdock for VOA)
“All my money.  All my handset.  Everything.  I no get anything.  Only my life, thank God.  Thank God for that, may government help us," said Ivbezim.

Outside the hospital, Beni Lar, the chair of the Committee on Human Rights in the National Assembly, says many victims of the bombing were working-class people, barely scraping by in Abuja’s “satellite towns.”

The “satellite towns” are where civil servants and other employees of Nigeria’s pristine capital live, because they can’t afford to stay in the city.  The towns are notorious for lacking electricity, clean water and for bad roads.

Lar says the government should find a way to help the blast victims recover economically.

“Those that have lost their breadwinners and their families, they will need some relief and some economic reintegration to the families of the victims," said Lar.

Emergency management officials say they will be paying the hospital bills but have not determined if there will be any other form of compensation.

The director general of Abuja’s FCT Emergency Management Agency, Abbas Idriss, says the government is working to coordinate hospital responses to “mitigate the suffering” of any future attacks.

But Monday's attack - the first in two years in the capital - was so devastating that authorites don’t have enough room for the bodies.

“The situation is that it’s not really accommodating the victims.  That is why we have to look for alternative places to relocate all the corpses," said Idriss.

Idriss also says the local government is increasing security ahead of the World Economic Forum for Africa next month.

No one has claimed responsibility for the attack but analysts blame Boko Haram, an Islamist militant group that has killed thousands of people, saying it wants to enforce its harsh version of Islamic law.

Most of the violence has been in the northeast, where three states have been under emergency rule for nearly a year.  Nigeria's military says it has largely contained the group, reclaiming formerly occupied lands, arresting and killing insurgents and scattering many who escaped.

But large-scale, deadly attacks continue, and rights groups say more than 1,500 people have been killed this year alone.

And at the Nyanya Motor Park hours after the attack, Vera Achoin, a local English teacher, points to dozens of bombed-out city buses and says she fears the conflict is spreading.
 
“Many died, many.  All those buses you see there.  People were all filled inside to go and yet they had not gone.  The drivers, the one that survived you see them swimming in blood," said Achoin.

The Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps says it will deploy 100,000 extra security guards on the roads and around churches for the upcoming Easter holiday.
Boko Haram has threatened Christians and previously attacked churches on Christian holidays.  However, the vast majority of its victims have been Muslims.

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