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

Pundits Split Over Long-Term US Role in Afghanistan

Security pact remains condition for American presence beyond 2014; deadline criticized More

US Eyes Islamic State Threat

Officials warn that IS could pose a threat to US homeland More

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Moscow says Russian troops crossed into Ukrainian territory by mistake More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocksi
X
George Putic
August 25, 2014 4:00 PM
How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Ukrainian officials say they have captured Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory -- the latest accusation of Moscow's involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the Ukrainian side of the battle, where soldiers are convinced of Russia's role.
Video

Video Rubber May Soon Come From Dandelions

Synthetic rubber has been around for more than a century, but quality tires for cars, trucks and aircraft still need up to 40 percent or more natural rubber content. As the source of natural rubber, the rubber tree, is prone to disease and can be affected by bad weather. So scientists are looking for replacements. And as VOA’s George Putic reports, they may have found one in a ubiquitous weed.
Video

Video Jewish Life in Argentina Reflected in Yiddish Tango

Jewish people from across Europe and Russia have been immigrating to Argentina for hundreds of years. They brought with them dance music that was eventually mixed with Argentine tango. The result is Yiddish tango -- a fusion of melodies and cultural experiences that is still evolving today. Elizabeth Lee reports on how one band is bringing Yiddish tango to Los Angeles.
Video

Video Peace Returns to Ferguson as Community Tries to Heal

Thousands of people nationwide are expected to attend funeral services Monday in the U.S. Midwestern city of St. Louis, Missouri, for Michael Brown, the unarmed African-American teenager who was fatally shot by a white police officer August 9 in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson. The shooting touched off days of violent demonstrations there, resulting in more than 100 arrests. VOA's Chris Simkins reports from Ferguson where the community is trying to move on after weeks of racial tension.
Video

Video Meeting in Minsk May Hinge on Putin Story

The presidents of Russia and Ukraine are expected to meet face-to-face Tuesday in Minsk, along with European leaders, for talks on the situation in Ukraine. Political analysts say the much welcomed dialogue could help bring an end to months of deadly clashes between pro-Russia separatists and Ukrainian forces in the country's southeast. But much depends on the actions of one man, Russian President Vladimir Putin. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Artists Shun Russia's Profanity Law

Russia in July enacted a law threatening fines for publicly displayed profanity in media, films, literature, music and theater. The restriction, the toughest since the Soviet era, aims to protect the Russian language and culture and has been welcomed by those who say cursing is getting out of control. But many artists reject the move as a patronizing and ineffective act of censorship in line with a string of conservative morality laws. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video British Fighters on Frontline of ISIS Information War

Security services are racing to identify the Islamic State militant who beheaded U.S. journalist James Foley in Syria. The murderer spoke English on camera with a British accent. It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for the Islamic State, also called ISIL or ISIS, alongside thousands of other foreign jihadists. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from the center of the investigation in London.

AppleAndroid