Justice

Boko Haram Attacks Are Forcing 1 Million Children out of School

As concerns about the Islamic State continue to mount in the Western world, a second terrorist group known as Boko Haram has waged attacks in northeastern Nigeria and neighboring countries, forcing more than 1 million children out of school, the United Nations Children's Fund announced on Tuesday.

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Boko Haram, which roughly translates to "Western education is sinful," appears to have targeted the region's education systems. At least 2,000 schools have been forced to close in Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad, and Niger due to recent violence. Hundreds have been attacked, looted, and even set on fire.

unicef

The agency also warned that children who have been displaced from school are at greater risk of being abducted, abused, and recruited as child soldiers.

"It’s a staggering number," Manuel Fontaine, UNICEF's West and Central Africa Regional Director, said in a press release. "The conflict has been a huge blow for education in the region, and violence has kept many children out of the classroom for more than a year, putting them at risk of dropping out of school altogether."

unicef

While hundreds of schools have reopened in northeastern Nigeria in recent months, many classrooms are overcrowded, or they've been used as temporary shelters for families who've been displaced by the violent extremism, the Associated Press reported.

What's more, many teachers have refused to resume class, encouraging parents to keep their children at home. At least 600 teachers have been killed since the start of Boko Haram's insurgency six years ago.

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"The challenge we face is to keep children safe without interrupting their schooling," Fontaine said. "Schools have been targets of attack, so children are scared to go back to the classroom; yet the longer they stay out of school, the greater the risks of being abused, abducted and recruited by armed groups."

You can watch the children survivors respond to the violence from Boko Haram in this video: