On Sunday, April 8, a Nigerian army spokesman announced that the military had rescued 149 people who were kidnapped by terrorist organization Boko Haram. The operation took place the day before, in a raid in the northeast region of the country.
Colonel Onyeama Nwachukwu, the Deputy Director of Army Public Relations, released a statement to the NAN News agency which said that the raid resulted in the deaths of five Boko Haram members, and the capture of five more. The 54 women and 95 children who were rescued are currently being treated at a medical facility.
The Nigeria-based militant Islamic organization has spent the past decade engaged in a bloody crusade as it attempts to instate Sharia law within Nigeria and neighbouring countries. During this time, the conflict instigated by Boko Haram has left at least 20,000 people dead, and displaced more than 2.6 million more, according to news network Al Jazeera. In 2016, the group officially became the deadliest terror group, surpassing ISIS and killing 6,644 people in 2014 alone, according to CNN News. Devastating attacks continue to plague Nigerian communities regularly. The group, whose name roughly translates to “Western education is forbidden” in the local Hausa dialect, has been likened by locals to a “Nigerian Taliban,” due to its mission of outlawing Western education, its use of extreme violence against civilians, and establishing an Islamic State.
Boko Haram burst into the global fore in April 2014 when its fighters kidnapped 276 teenage girls from Chibok, Nigeria, resulting in global outrage and the high-profile social media campaign #BringBackOurGirls, propagated by everyone from non-celebrities, to huge names such as Malala Yousafzai and former U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama. The UN Security Council also added the group to its sanctions list in May 2014. Despite these strong global reactions, and even with the aid of 80 US troops deployed to Chad in May 2014, the Nigerian government has not succeeded in rescuing all of the schoolgirls kidnapped at that time—about 100 girls are still missing according to CNN News, and many more from subsequent raids, which have received less international attention.
Since the 2014 attack, the #BringBackOurGirls campaign has faded from the public eye and seemingly its consciousness. However, Boko Haram remains very much a threat. It continues to terrorize Nigeria, Chad, and Cameroon and spread a culture of violence, insecurity, and fear. The fact that the organization has successfully perpetrated such a staggering amount of loss of life, with such regularity, should only serve to galvanize the public even more. Yet tragically, the result is often just the opposite, with mainstream news sites and the public becoming habituated to dire situations across the globe, and turning their ever-shifting attention elsewhere.
While last week’s work of the Nigerian military deserves to be lauded as it allowed over 100 families to reunite with their kidnapped loved ones, the continued dedication to rescuing all victims, and putting an end to the reign of terror of the organization, is desperately needed. Only then will order be re-established in the afflicted communities, as places in which education and opportunity are attainable and the constant cloud of fear and violence does not hang over the heads of civilians.