While American news outlets have been fretting over ISIS and the attack on Je Suis Charlie, little attention is being paid to the growing threat of the terrorist group Boko Haram. Founded in 2002 in Northern Nigeria, the terrorist group now controls more than 20,000 square miles and approximately 3 million civilians. Boko Haram’s goal is to create an Islamic state that is able to impose its own version of Sharia law (the Islamic code of law based on varying interpretations of the Quran and teachings of Muhammad), including banning any association with Western society, forcefully converting others to Islam, and treating women as part of “war booty,” according to BBC news. This ideology is reflected in the name Boko Haram, which translates to “Western education is a sin.”
Recently, Boko Haram has expanded its reach into the borders of Chad and Niger in a series of raids. Adamu Kamale, a representative for the district of Michika, Nigeria, said in reference to the terrorist group, “they [Boko Haram] slaughter people like animals.” While committing these horrific acts against humanity, Boko Haram also has been connected to a string of kidnappings, the most famous being the abduction of 200 hundred school girls last April, which spurred an international internet campaign using the hashtag “Bring Back Our Girls,” none of whom have returned home.
Boko Haram also takes boys between the ages of 10 and 23 to train as soldiers. The U.S. State Department commented on a recent Twitter post showing young boys holding guns, “amid its massacres of innocents, Boko Haram [is] running training camps for child soldiers.”
Another outcome of Boko Haram’s brutal attacks are thousands of children left without a home. Most of these children are orphans living in temporary refugee camps where they receive just enough attention to be fed, but the workers do not have the time or resources to help console every child.
“We give them a brief talk. We tell them to forget about everything. We tell them God will take care of them,” community health worker Ahmed Ulenda said in an interview for Al Jazeera.
These orphaned children raise a question in reference to the long-term impacts: How will these children, and this country survive on their own?