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FOCUS: Nigeria’s teenage girls forcefully abducted by Boko Haram

April 17, 2017 3:22 PM
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FOCUS: Nigeria’s teenage girls forcefully abducted by Boko Haram

The sheer scale of human suffering and underlying exhaustion that comes with many years of war and the persistent insurgency has dealth a huge blow to Borno state, a state which ironically has the slogan - Home of Peace.

According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), if it weren’t for the tireless journalists and aid workers collecting data and reporting stories of human suffering, the catastrophe un the state would go completely unnoticed.

Millions of people have been displaced during the Boko Haram’s brutal and relentless campaign to terrorise and kill ‘non-believers’, and eradicate western education.

The impact on children is nothing short of devastating. Education systems, healthcare facilities, and basic services have all been destroyed. More than 2,000 schools have closed and more than 400 teachers killed.

A UNICEF writer described what she saw in the state few months back. She wrote: ''Long lines of families as far as the eye could see, winding slowly through the arid terrain, amid mirages rising from the road.

''Many carried wooden carts loaded with possessions, gaunt cattle, and huge containers of water. They were walking towards Maiduguri to seek shelter in the displacement camps, where they could access healthcare, water, nutrition and counselling from organisations like UNICEF.

The centre is used to ensure that insurgents are not hiding among the internally displaced people heading for the town. It is only when they reach the bigger camp in Dalori, that the children will get a sense of normality again; friends, school, and supplies.

While we know about the 270 schoolgirls that were abducted two years ago, there are same stories from other girls over and over again. Stories of girls being kidnapped, abused, and forced into marriage.

As the Nigerian government and military continue rescue efforts, more and more girls are being rescued and are returning home. Community perceptions of them, and the children born out of sexual violence, are presenting big challenges for reintegration.

The writer narrates her experience with some of the victims. She wrote: ''I recently spent some time with two teenage girls, Aisha and Noor, who were held in captivity by the insurgents. Both had babies born out of sexual violence, and today are struggling to rebuild their lives.

''Aisha was only 12 years old when she was kidnapped, abused and forced to marry a Boko Haram fighter. At 14, she is now pregnant with her first child, but has since escaped from the man that she was forced to marry and then impregnated her.

''Noor was 17 when she was abducted from her own home. As she hid under her bed, Boko Haram fighters threatened the life of her father if he did not hand her over. Like Aisha, she was kidnapped, abused and forced to marry. After six escape attempts she and her baby, born out of abuse, made it to safety in a camp located near the town of Bama.

''Like many other girls, Noor and Aisha are unable to return home because their families are scared to trust someone who was once associated with the insurgents, even though hey were taken by force. recently met with some kids in a IDP camp in Abuja who were victims of Boko Haram.

Also read: Boko Haram not holding any place in Northeast – Buhari


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