Massacre of Thousands in Nigeria
NEW YORK – As many as 2000 people have been massacred in Nigeria by Boko Haram in a series of deadly attacks. “The attack on Baga and surrounding towns, looks as if it could be Boko Haram’s deadliest act in a catalogue of increasingly heinous attacks carried out by the group,” stated Amnesty International.
The attacks started on January 3rd and have so far been almost ignored by much of the world’s media. Focus on the AirAsia disaster and terror attacks in Paris pushed news of the attacks off the front pages of most newspapers.
“If reports that the town was largely razed to the ground and that hundreds or even as many as two thousand civilians were killed are true, this marks a disturbing and bloody escalation of Boko Haram’s ongoing onslaught against the civilian population,” said Daniel Eyre, Nigeria researcher for Amnesty International.
“We are currently working to find out more details of what happened during the attack on Baga and the surrounding area. This attack reiterates the urgent need for Boko Haram to stop the senseless killing of civilians and for the Nigerian government to take measures to protect a population who live in constant fear of such attacks,” said Daniel Eyre.
Latest Attacks Swell Ranks of Refugees From Nigeria
The number of Nigerian refugees seeking safety in Chad has almost quadrupled over the past 10 days after attacks by Boko Haram insurgents in northeastern Nigeria uprooted thousands, the United Nations refugee agency reported today.
The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported that attacks in Borno state have uprooted about 7,300 Nigerians, forcing them into western Chad, where most are staying with local communities in villages around 450 kilometres north-west of the capital, N’Djamena.
A spokesperson for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said the 3 January attack on the town of Baga alone caused 3,400 people to flee to Chad.
“The Government of Chad has requested international assistance,” said the spokesperson. “The Chadian Government has sent a mission and a medical team to the areas and is providing food assistance and other basic supplies. Humanitarian agencies including OCHA, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), UNHCR, the World Food Programme (WFP) and the World Health Organization (WHO) are currently in the area assessing needs.”
UNHCR is assessing the protection situation and coordinating aid delivery. “We’re already providing plastic sheets, jerry cans, mats, blankets and kitchen tools. Other humanitarian organizations are distributing aid too,” UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards noted in Geneva.
Mr. Edwards said UNHCR teams are seeking more information on the new arrivals and their needs and noted that the attack on Baga left hundreds dead and forced most of the town’s surviving inhabitants to flee.
Meanwhile in Niger, UNHCR has started to relocate refugees from the border area, so far moving 336 people to a camp deeper inside Niger, with more planned for next week. The refugees fled after a November attack on the Nigerian town of Damassak.
UNHCR, working alongside the National Eligibility Commission of Niger, is registering refugees as they arrive at the new camp, giving them identity documents and providing basic relief items, including drinking water and latrines.
In December, the first results of a continuing Government census, organized with UNHCR’s technical support, revealed that at least 90,000 people, including Niger nationals previously living in Nigeria, have found refuge in Niger’s Diffa region since May 2013. Many have chosen to remain close to the border, hoping to return to their home villages when the situation calms down.
Some 200,000 people have fled Nigeria to neighbouring countries, including Chad, Cameroon and Niger, according to figures from OCHA.
Boko Haram militants reportedly attacked Baga and surrounding towns on Saturday 3 January.
Since 2009, Boko Haram has deliberately targeted civilians through raids and bomb attacks with attacks increasing in frequency and severity.
The effects on the civilian population have been devastating with
thousands killed and abducted and hundreds of thousands forced to leave their homes.
Evidence gathered by Amnesty International indicates that Boko Haram have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity. The Nigerian government must investigate these violent abuses and ensure that those guilty of committing them are brought to justice.