On 8 January 2017, Nigeria marked the 1,000th day since the Chibok girls’ mass abduction. Of the 276 schoolgirls seized, mainly Christians, 195 are still in captivity. In the capital Abuja, “Bring Back our Girls” campaigners marched on the presidential house, stating: “As long as they are in captivity, we are all in captivity … the tears never dry, the ache is in our hearts.”
On Monday 16 January, a suicide bomb attack targeting the staff quarters at the Maiduguri University in Borno state, north-eastern Nigeria, killed four and wounded 15. The suicide bomber was a girl of around 12. It is believed the trademark Boko Haram attack was in response to their spate of recent defeats by the Nigerian army in the Sambisa Forest area of Borno.
This endorses the recent UN statement of 12 January that the humanitarian crisis caused by Boko Haram’s “violent and inhuman” campaign is worsening, that it has grown in the last twelve months “in dramatic fashion”. Christians are the primary targets, along with Western-style educational institutions and of course the security forces. More than 20,000 people have been killed in the violence, with 2.4 million people displaced, including 1.4 million children. Across the Lake Chad Basin as a whole, with local economies either destroyed or paralysed, some 7.1 million people face starvation.
Barnabas Fund has supported a range of initiatives in the region: victims of violence, disaster relief, feeding programmes, education and vocational training, medical, water and sanitation, small businesses, construction, to name a few.
The latest project, a boys’ hostel at the Gidan Waya Junior Seminary in the Kafanchan diocese, Kaduna state, was opened last week, with 150 students now in residence. Although completed in September 2016, the school was forced to close down midway through the final term because of Boko Haram attacks in the area. It has now reopened with extra security guards on hand. Built to save the children from the dangers and rigours of travelling to school, the new boarding hostel complements the girls’ hostel block that was completed in 2014, also funded by Barnabas Fund.