Terrorism: Ten Years of #BringBackOurGirls: Endless Nightmare in Nigeria | EUROtoday

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On an April evening a decade in the past, bearded males in rags and flip-flops picked up 276 women from the dormitories of their boarding college in Chibok, northeast Nigeria. The gunmen compelled the youngsters onto vehicles and took them deep into an enormous forest space within the West African nation's savannah. “We were beaten, yelled at – there was nothing they didn't do to us,” says Glory Mainta, who was kidnapped on April 14th. It wasn't till two years later that the primary of her comrades reappeared. She wandered malnourished by means of the forest with an toddler and an Islamist terrorist whom she had been compelled to marry.

A decade later, at the least 82 of the Chibok women are nonetheless lacking. Mass kidnappings have change into commonplace. “It’s not just the schools. Nobody is safe in Nigeria today,” mentioned activist Fatimah Abba Kaka from the “Bring Back Our Girls” motion, which is combating for the return of the Chibok women, to the German Press Agency.

The mass kidnapping of the “Chibok Girls” by the Islamist terrorist militia Boko Haram was a prime subject on social media worldwide in 2014. Celebrities comparable to US First Lady Michelle Obama, Pope Francis and Kim Kardashian tweeted beneath the hashtag “#BringBackOurGirls”. The US despatched army assist, however rescue makes an attempt failed. 103 women had been lastly ransomed in 2017 and 2018 – based on media analysis, for a ransom of three million euros and the trade of 5 Boko Haram leaders. A couple of extra escaped, others had been killed.

Thousands of victims of mass kidnappings

What appeared like a tragic escalation in 2014 has change into a recurring nationwide emergency. On common, there was a serious kidnapping of greater than 5 individuals nearly every single day this yr, with a complete of 1,867 individuals kidnapped, based on safety consulting agency SBM. More than 15,000 individuals have fallen sufferer to mass kidnappings prior to now 5 years, the bulk inside the final two years alone. It was solely initially of March that dozens of faculty youngsters had been kidnapped once more, as had been greater than 200 ladies and kids from a refugee camp.

Unlike earlier than, it’s now not primarily the Islamist terrorists from Boko Haram who’re answerable for the kidnappings, however reasonably prison gangs. Boko Haram, whose title could be translated as “Western education is sin,” bases their terror on the battle for a caliphate during which women specifically needs to be banned from studying. According to latest findings, the kidnapping of the Chibok women was extra of a coincidence throughout a theft – however the international outcry that introduced the beforehand nearly unknown group into the highlight made Boko Haram shortly understand what a robust PR instrument that they had acquired . The group captured hundreds extra women and younger ladies, typically to marry them off to fighters or promote them off as slaves – however above all to extort ransom cash.

The majority of kidnappings now happen within the northwest of the nation. Gangs of warlords are at work there, kidnapping farmers for compelled labor or demanding ransom from members of the family. The so-called bandits are additionally answerable for the latest mass kidnappings of faculty youngsters. “The kidnapping of the Chibok girls has absolutely inspired the generation of bandits we have today,” analyzes safety advisor Yahuza Getso Ahmad within the on-line medium Semafor.

SBM: Millions in earnings for the blackmailers

According to the World Bank, a couple of in three individuals in Nigeria not too long ago lived in excessive poverty on lower than 2 euros a day. Steeply rising costs, shortages and crop failures attributable to bloody conflicts are driving many individuals into crime out of desperation, consultants clarify. Kidnappings are comparatively low-risk and herald some huge cash. Ransom funds have been banned in Nigeria since 2022 – in apply, households proceed to dump all the things they’ve with a view to ransom youngsters. According to SBM estimates, thousands and thousands of euros circulate into the blackmailers' coffers yearly.

Even if the battle towards schooling for women is now not the principle motivation, there’s a threat of catastrophic results on a complete technology. According to 2022 figures from the UN youngsters's fund Unicef, greater than half of all women in Nigeria don’t attend college. Concerned mother and father marry off women as early as doable to guard them from worse issues. Thousands of colleges are closed or destroyed. After the Chibok case, Nigeria's authorities launched an initiative to safe colleges. Aid cash and investments amounting to tens of thousands and thousands got here from everywhere in the world, however their whereabouts usually are not clear.

«The initiative that was supposed to guard colleges solely exists on paper. Nothing is being finished to implement them. It is a failure of the federal government,” says “Bring Back Our Girls” activist Fatimah Abba Kaka. “They should evaluate the findings of the investigation, how the kidnapping could have taken place and where the failure lay. And the government should take care of freeing the remaining girls.”

“We’re still not sure”

Many of the launched younger ladies from Chibok have returned to highschool or are learning. “Whenever I hear that children have been kidnapped again, I feel terrible and helpless,” says a 28-year-old who was among the many kidnapped women and is now learning pure and environmental sciences. “We’re still not sure.”

Nigeria is the continent's largest financial system with one of many largest armies – however the nation is consumed by corruption, troopers are poorly paid and poorly geared up, and the police hardly exist within the space. Crises in each nook of the multi-ethnic state with greater than 220 million inhabitants are stretching our forces.

The political scientist Chukwudi Victor Odoeme attracts a bleak conclusion in an interview with the dpa: “People are so busy with survival that they don't care about the government's failures. And those in power are happy that no one is holding them accountable.”

© dpa-infocom, dpa:240414-99-669197/2