Islamists force 650 000 Nigerians from homes

Lagos - Attacks by Boko Haram Islamists in Nigeria's crisis-hit northeast have forced nearly 650 000 people from their homes, the United Nations humanitarian office (OCHA) said on Tuesday, an increase of nearly 200 000 since May.

The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) for its part reported that about 1 000 people trying to escape the fighting had fled to an uninhabited island on Lake Chad across Nigeria's northeastern border.

"The group, mainly women and children, is in urgent need of food, water, shelter and medical care," the UNHCR said.

They reached the remote island of Choua on Thursday after fleeing a Boko Haram attack in their home town of Kolikolia, according to the refugee agency.

Chad has pledged to send two helicopters to the island to help evacuate the Nigerian refugees to a nearby area where they can be temporarily settled with host communities, the UNHCR added.

The refugee agency said it was sending staff to the area to coordinate the relief effort.

Thousands have fled over Nigeria's borders into Cameroon, Chad and Niger seeking refuge from Boko Haram's relentless violence, which has killed more than 2 000 civilians this year and left scores of villages destroyed.

Relief workers have avoided setting up refugee or internally displaced persons (IDP) camps, but some fear camps may soon become necessary, especially in Nigeria, as the security forces struggle to contain the escalating Islamist violence.

OCHA said 436 608 people have been displaced in the three states - Adamawa, Borno and Yobe - that were placed under emergency rule in May 2013.

The agency put the IDP figure at 250 000 in May this year.

10 000 dead

Another 210 085 have fled their homes in areas neighbouring the state of emergency zone, bringing the total number of people displaced by Boko Haram unrest to nearly 650 000, OCHA reported.

The Islamist insurgents, who are seeking to create an Islamic state in the country's predominantly Muslim north, have killed more than 10 000 people since 2009.

The military has for more than a year been waging an offensive in the northeast aimed at crushing the uprising, but the campaign appears to have yielded few gains and the military's tactics have been harshly criticised.

The latest report of massive abuses by Nigeria's military came Monday from Amnesty International, which released videos that appeared to show the security forces and allied vigilantes carrying out extra-judicial executions, including by slitting people's throats.

Nigeria's defence ministry said it was taking Amnesty's allegations "very seriously" and would launch an investigation.

Andrew MacDonald 2014/08/05 09:12:58 PM
10 000 dead and 650 000 displaced. 200 girls kidnapped. Bombings in public areas and attacks on churches. Where are the marchers now?
Web Perfect 2014/08/05 09:13:17 PM
Now this is going to be interesting - Lets see how many of those 10 000 people who protested against Israel in Cape Town are going to protest about this - my guess it will be fairly close to zero. Any bets on this one!!!!!
Justin JAcks 2014/08/05 09:13:25 PM
Surprise surprise, the same people causing problems in israel are causing them in Africa. Extreme terrorists are all the same whether they called Hamas, boko haram, Isis, al Qaida etc Funny there no calls to boycott them
Robert Miller 2014/08/05 09:26:32 PM
Funny how we don't see Christians doing this. Makes you wonder who their god is. Sure as hell ain't mine. God of peace. What a joke.can't pull wool over our eyes.
Akhenaten 2014/08/05 09:36:37 PM
Where is the Nigerian army? Where is the assistance from the AU or are they like a bull-dog without teeth.
Noel Hagen 2014/08/05 09:43:45 PM
So about 2000 Nigerians have been murdered every year since 2009 and hardly comment from ANYONE!!! Then compared to Palestinians the life of a Nigerian must be worth very little.
Samuel Hendrik Thomas 2014/08/05 09:45:14 PM
Must be real tragic to live a life full of hatred and blame it on Allah. Wonder how God feels about this allah that causes all murders by his followers.
Mageba 2014/08/05 09:49:14 PM
And it seems the world has forgotten about the 200 kidnapped girls; we have moved on to other things like World Cup, test cricket, etc
Faldila Gassiep 2014/08/05 09:56:30 PM
Mr Web perfect...I have marched and prayed for injusticese in my country and around the world on many occasions. ..Please dont make this a religious fight....its purely on humanitarian grounds that we march. Islam does not preach what these people are NO!!!! We are not condoning what they are doing and they are using Islam and tainting our beautiful religion. These are sick psychopaths that you find in every religion! We as Muslims hate them for what they are doing and we pray that the Nigerians be set free. So please dont let your hatred for Islam make you pass nasty remarks...
Billal Saloogee 2014/08/05 10:10:48 PM
Why is Boko Haram referred to as Islamists. They have been condemned in the strongest terms by Islamic clerics from around the globe, and have mass murdered mostly Muslims in their attacks. Their actions are horrific and are anti Islamic.