“Welcome our girls, welcome our sisters”

Boko Haram’s constant terrorist threat in Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Mali has provoked a multitude of deaths and controversies in the last eight years (organization founded in 2002), whose aim is to declare the establishment of the Sharia as in force norm in all the conditions of Nigeria. This organization has provoked 20.000 casualties, the displacement of 1,5 million refugees and a humanitarian crisis without precedents in the North-East of Nigeria in its eight years of insurgency.

During one of the moments of Boko Haram’s maximum territorial expansion, on April 13, 2014, members of this terrorist group were penetrating a center of Chibok’s secondary education, to the Northeast of the country, kidnapping 276 teenagers, between twelve and seventeen years of age. Of the kidnapped girls, 57 could escape of his captors, but the rest disappeared.

Now 82 of the Chibok school girls have been returned in a trade deal between Boko Haram and the Nigerian Government. In order to retrieve the girls, five of Boko Haram commanders have now been set free. The Chibok girls gained attention after social media erupted with the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls, many public figures such as former United States First Lady Michelle Obama came out in support of the movements. As of today, there are still 113 girls held captive by Boko Haram.

For the return of the girls, some parents traveled to the capital to celebrate and to be with their daughters as soon as possible, meanwhile there are still parents worried about the 113 missing girls. Integrating these girls back to society is going to be a tough task as they faced unbelievable psychical pressure and violence without any hope for freedom. Because many of them were Christians they had to convert to Islam.  It followed marriage to their captor and childbirth somewhere in the forest. The others were forced to take part in suicide missions. The UN Special Rapporteurs stressed the necessity for useful measures to address stigma and rejection of women and people associated with Boko Haram by their families and communities.

As the girls return to their homes “the president was delighted to receive them and he promised that all that is needed to be done to reintegrate them into the society will be done,” said Femi Adesina. Their reintegration to the society will be supervised by government officials.

Even though President Muhammadu Buhari promised for his election to make the fight against Boko Haram and the return of the Girls his priorities it is unclear how active the terrorist group is now. Buhari late last year announced Boko Haram had been “crushed”. With the group, still in activity in Northern Nigeria and its surrounding countries Al Jazeera’s Ahmed Idris says, “A lot of people in Nigeria don’t believe that Boko Haram will simply release those girls after three years in captivity for nothing in return.”. This shows that even after the release of 21 girls last year and 82 now the population remains uncertain about their safety from the group and the power of the government.



BOKO HARAM- the 11th plague of Africa

April 14th.  Midnight; 300 girls are woken up in their boarding school in the small village Chibok. A group of army-dressed men shoot their AK-47s while the group of terrified girls enters reluctantly into the Jeep trucks.

“We thought they were soldiers. They told us to get out of our hostels, saying that they had been sent to take us safety because Boko Haram was attacking the town. Suddenly they began to chant ‘Allahu Akbar’ -Allah is great- as they set the school buildings on fire. That is when we realized we were in the hands of Boko Haram” – narrates one of the girls who escaped, through a phone interview for LA times.

This is the chronicle of the massive kidnapping that took place last month in northern Nigeria. More girls were abducted during the following days. Currently, 276 girls are still missing. Nigeria’s government, with the international community’s support, claim to be doing all they can in order to rescue the minors from the merciless hands of Boko Haram.

With the latest events, the whole world has turned their eyes towards this country located in Western Africa, trying to figure out who is Boko Haram, and above all, how to stop them.

The extremist group finds its inspiration in the revivalist Islamist projects carried out in northern Nigeria during the XIX century. It was officially born in 2002 as a sect, guide by the charismatic preacher Muhammed Yusuf. The literal translation of “Boko Haram” means “Western education is sin”, which is the standard the group has been trying to impose for the last twelve years. Despite the fact that the group counts with the not-so-small number of 5000 victims in its back, the international community knows little about them. What led to their creation? How do they operate? How is the organization’s structure? Why has no one been able to stop them? And the million dollar question: who pays for all these deaths?

Abukabar Shekau, current Boko Haram leader from a youtube released in april 12,2012

Abukabar Shekau, current Boko Haram leader in a still from a video released on youtube  on april 12,2012

The kidnapping of the school girls is just the top of the ice-berg. Three months ago 50 teenagers were slaughtered in their school; some of them were burned alive. Since 2009, when the sect leader – who acted as a moderator-, was killed by Nigeria’s army, the group became more violent, bombing churches and killing politicians.

 According to a report given by IRIN to the UN, poverty and the government’s lack of interest is what have nurtured the lines of Boko Haram. At the same time, “Humans Right Watch”, proved that Nigerian army is guilty of violating human rights in its territory and the government’s corruption seems to be rampant. Otherwise, there is no logical explanation for the parsimony of resources employed to take actions towards the violent group. Moreover, scratching deeper, we found out that the group used to be financed by members of the government itself, as the former Borno state governor, Modu Sheriff. Nowadays, their income is believed to come from different extremist organizations, and from the sex-slaves-selling business, among other sources.

While the world waits powerless for better news, Nigeria continues under its living nightmare, wondering what will happen next.