In the May 19 New York Times Adam Nossiter reports on the conditions of women and girls newly freed from Boko Haram captivity. He reports that they are among some 15,000 internally displaced persons (IDP) at a camp in Dalori, Borno, outside of the state capital, Maiduguri.
Citing relief workers, Nossiter reports that some 200 girls are pregnant, mostly the result of sexual violence at the hands of Boko Haram. Many of the victims betray serious symptoms of physical and mental illness. Nossiter reports that some women are too traumatized to leave their tents. Some have been diagnosed with HIV/AIDS. He also reports the presence of thousands of children, many without visible parents.
There are estimates that there are 1,500,000 IDPs in Nigeria, and 200,000 refugees in neighboring countries. Many cannot go home. Boko Haram is still active. According to the Council’s Nigeria Security Tracker, Boko Haram carried out six attacks in the week of May 9, including one in Maiduguri and one in Cameroon. Clearly, this humanitarian disaster requires international assistance.
On May 29, Muhammadu Buhari will be inaugurated as president of Nigeria. He has said that Boko Haram is a Nigerian challenge to be met by Nigerians. But, he has also said that he wishes to restore a military relationship with the United States. It is to be hoped that in the early days of his presidency he will seek to coordinate and lead an international assistance campaign with a focus on victims of Boko Haram. And, the international community should respond. In the meantime, Nossiter reports that there is already a small UNICEF and Doctors Without Borders (MSF) presence at the camp in Dalori. At the very least, their presence should be expanded immediately.