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#BringBackOurGirls PDF Print E-mail

#BringBackOurGirls is the massive media campaign carried out after the abduction of 276 girls from a secondary school in Chibok, Nigeria, last April 14.

After this event the terroristic group of Boko Haram gained the first pages of newspaper and the attention of media worldwide.

Thousands of people, organizations and governments as well adhered to the global campaign #BringBackOurGirl.

However after a year Boko Harm still holds 219 girls, the destiny of whom is a mystery.

While the solidarity campaign #BringBackOurGirls has obtained laud  eco on media and in civil societies the nature of Boko Haram, the outcomes of the recent election in Nigeria and the possible future scenario are not so known, especially in the European public opinions.

Then is interesting to analyze who are the members of Boko Haram, which are their roots and what they claim to achieve.

The origin of Boko Harm can be understood only taking in consideration the context in which the group is operating.

Nigeria is the largest, most populous and richest State of Western Africa with multiple ethnic and religious divides.  The main divisions remain between the southern region, prevalently Christian and richest and the north part, in which the Islamic religion is dominant.

Along the years the differences between ethnics and religious groups have led to internal conflicts and tensions, the most famous of which was the Biafra war in 1967.

In addition the economic opportunities generated from the oil and the row materials are not exploited for the general welfare of the population, rather are handled by limited group and reduced by corruption and mismanagement. Because of that inequalities and distances between the richest and the poorest are increasing with the years.  

In that context the terroristic group was founded in north-eastern city of Maiduguri with the official name of “People Committed to the Propagation of the Prophet's Teachings and Jihad", but is mainly knows as Boko Haram that means “Western Education is Forbidden”.  

In 2002 the charismatic Muslim cleric, Mohammed Yusuf, set up a religious complex, with a mosque and an Islamic school, which attracted families and students also from others part of northern regions.

The first actions of the group were initially focused on contrasting Western Education and they were underestimated by the government elite. However they swiftly moved toward more political and economic spheres and starting from 2009 the group carried out a spate of attacks on police stations and other government buildings in Maiduguri.

Only in that moment the government reacted with a military mission which led to death of the leader Yusuf and the optimistic perception by the government that Boko Haram was totally defeated.

However under the guide of the new leader Abubakar Shekau Boko Haram emerged again more powerful and more dangerous than never. Enlarging own resources and weapons the group staged more audacious attacks in northern and central Nigeria, including bombing churches, bus ranks, bars, military barracks and even the police and UN headquarters in the capital, Abuja.

The context of escalating violence led the Nigerian President to declare a state of emergency in May 2013 in the three northern states where Boko Haram is the strongest - Borno, Yobe and Adamawa.

However the government was unable to face the increasing power and influence of Boko Haram, which at the end of 2014 has sworn fidelity to ISIS and at the beginning of 2015 has carried out some attacks also in Cameroon and Chad.

In this precarious situation the Federal election took place on the last 28 March. The winner is the former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari. He has always been popular among the poor in the north and his military background and his disciplinarian credentials are perceives as what the whole country needs to get to grips with the Islamist insurgency in the north.

He has promised to re-obtain the control on the Northern region and to defeat Boko Haram through disciple and intransigence.

In the meanwhile Cameroon, Niger and Chad decided for a military mission in support of the Nigeria one, which is indirectly sustained also by the US.  

However some doubts about the efficiency of such mission are emerging.

Indeed the intensified regional operations have not had a significant impact on Boko Haram's operations. In facts the 270 students are only a portion among the 2,000 women and girls abducted by Boko Haram since the start of 2014.

Because of that doubts about the efficiency of the military approach are emerging.

Despite the multitask forces against Boko Haram have the main purpose of protecting civilians from further Boko Haram attacks, stopping abductions, and rescuing those held captive a priority, the military action alone will not address the tragic situation unfolding in northeastern Nigeria.

What is necessary is a wider approach and long-term strategies, which aims to handle with the conditions that have allowed Boko Haram to become so powerful and dangerous.

Within these policies also reflections about ensuring justice for the crimes committed by the government army has to be done.  

Nigeria has to deal with big challengers, not only fight against a terroristic group, but create the environment for justice and social cohesion.

In order to reach these purpose weapons and force are not sufficient.

Wider policies toward democratic participation, justice and rule of law cannot be relegated in a shadow corner.   

In this battle Nigeria is not alone, as not alone are all the girls and women kidnapped by Boko Haram. We still ask for having them back

Micaela for Mahatma Gandhi Human Rights Organization.

Budapest, 14 April 2015

Sources of the article: BBC news, The guardian, NBC news

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