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

Video China Investigates Powerful Former Security Chief

Analysts say move by President Xi is an effort to win more party support, take step toward economic reforms, removing those who would stand in way of change More

South Africa Land Reforms Still Contentious 20 Years Later

Activists argue that the pace of land reform is slow and biased; legal experts question how some proposed reforms would be implemented More

In Vietnam, Religious Freedoms Violated, UN Finds

Beliefs reportedly prompt heavy surveillance, intimidation and travel restrictions More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelteri
X
Scott Bobb
July 30, 2014 8:16 PM
Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video A Summer Camp for All the World

VIDEO: During workshops and social gatherings, the Global Youth Village summer camp encourages young people to cooperate and embrace their differences, while learning to communicate with people from other countries. VOA's Deborah Block has more.
Video

Video From Cantankerous Warlock to Incorruptible Priest, 'Harry Potter' Actor Embraces Diverse Roles

He’s perhaps best known as Mad Eye Moody, the whimsical wizard in the Harry Potter franchise. But character actor Brendan Gleeson's resume includes dozens of films, and he embraces all the characters he inhabits with equal passion. In an interview with VOA’s Penelope Poulou, Gleeson discussed his new drama "Calvary" and his secret to success.

AppleAndroid