News / Africa

Government, NGOs Helping Families of Boko Haram Victims

A woman is consoled by church members as she grieves near the graves of victims of a suicide bomb attack during a memorial service at St. Theresa's Church in Madalla, on the outskirts of Abuja, December 23, 2012.
A woman is consoled by church members as she grieves near the graves of victims of a suicide bomb attack during a memorial service at St. Theresa's Church in Madalla, on the outskirts of Abuja, December 23, 2012.
Heather Murdock
Nigerian officials said on Wednesday their security forces had killed 20 Boko Haram militants and arrested two commanders.  In a separate incident Boko Haram militants killed seven civilians and a police inspector.  

While most of the victims in the ongoing conflict spawned by Boko Haram are young men they leave behind mothers, widows and orphans.  Nigerian government and non-governmental groups say they are raising funds to help the living victims.

Mallum Muhammed says she can still hear the sound of the gunshots that killed four of her children late last year, and the sound of their sobbing silenced as they died. 

She says her children were killed by suspected Boko Haram gunmen, in the type of attack that has left her city, Maiduguri, a war zone.  Only months before, her eldest son and husband, who worked for the government, were killed in almost the same way.

Near-daily attacks

Maiduguri, in Borno State is the original home of Boko Haram, an Islamist militant group that has been waging an insurgency since 2009.  Human Rights Watch says more than 3,000 people have been killed in the violence, including killings by security forces.

Locals say the city remains tense, with near-daily attacks in surrounding villages and towns.  Morgues and prisons are packed and officials say the widows and orphans  are left hopelessly poor.

"Some lost their husbands, some their houses were burnt.  All these women, truly they need our support.  They need the assistance of the state government," says Inna Galadima, the commissioner for women’s affairs in Borno State.  She says her office selected 40 women and gave them over $600 each to start small businesses. 

Helping survivors

Further south, in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, officials at the Christian Association of Nigerian-Americans call for donations for a fund set up to help survivors - both Christian and Muslim - access medical care, enough food and education. 

James Fadele, the organization’s president, says, "If backers of terrorists are releasing the money to perpetuate the acts of terror, supporters of and advocates of peace can no longer look the other way.”

It’s hard to say exactly how much violence can be attributed to Boko Haram because the group appears to be splintered into several sub-groups. 

Random criminals

Abubakar Umar Kari, a political science lecturer at the University of Abuja, says sometimes random criminals can commit random crimes and call themselves Boko Haram, a name that elicits fear for many.

In January, one man, claiming to be a Boko Haram leader, declared a unilateral truce.  Officials at the time said a truce would be welcomed, and many Nigerians said they were relieved, but Kari says the truce never appeared to be real.

"A section of the insurgents declared a unilateral cease-fire, but then after a few weeks all of the sudden the shootings and the bombings have returned," said Kari.

And then last weekend a video was sent to journalists.  Like all information from Boko Haram, the source of the video could not be verified.

In it, a man claiming to be Abubakar Shekau, who is believed to be Boko Haram's real leader, says he’s been trying to post on YouTube for weeks but the government is blocking their access. 

He says there can be no truce as long as Boko Haram members and their families are imprisoned.  The cease-fire, he says, was a lie.  He says the man who declared it will be punished leaving little doubt that the violence that has devastated so many families will continue. 

Abdulkareem Haruna contributed to this report from Maiduguri, Nigeria.

You May Like

US Border Patrol Union Accused of Taking Sides on Immigration

Report alleges agents leaking info to immigration opponents, appearing at their private events; Center for Immigration Studies director defends agents' actions More

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Reporting from Somali capital for past decade, Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal has been working at one of Mogadishu's leading radio stations covering parliament More

Video Rights Monitor: Hate Groups' Use of Internet to Inflame, Recruit Growing

Wiesenthal Center's Abraham Cooper says extremists have become skilled at celebrating violence, ideology on Web More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Interneti
X
Mike O'Sullivan
June 30, 2015 8:20 PM
Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.

VOA Blogs