Boko Haram

How Doctors Without Borders, Nigerian Air Force, like Life Line Africa in Somalia, is helping victims of Boko Haram Islamic militants ravaging North-East Nigeria

For about 10 years, the war against the Boko Haram terrorist organization has ravaged North-East Nigeria (Borno, Adamawa and Yobe States), killing tens of thousands and leaving more than 2million people internally displaced.

Doctors Without Borders (also known as Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)), the Nigerian Air Force, are among many other organizations offering free medical care and other humanitarian services in North East-Nigeria, especially in Borno State, where there are more victims of the insurgency.

Despite challenges in the delivery of aid in some areas like (Pulka, Bama, Banki, Dikwa and Rann), these organizations have worked harder in ensuring that its operations reaches many areas in Borno State.

Also, the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) established two emergency hospitals in IDPs camps in Bama and Dalori, and has also conducted many medical outreach programmes across the North-East states.

Similar free medical services were rendered by Life Line Africa Foundation (a free ambulance service in Mogadishu, the capital city of Somalia) to the wounded in Somali in the midst of chaos and death when Islamist insurgency ravaged the country, killing thousands and displacing many more thousands of people in the southern part of the country.

The war began in February 2009 between the Federal Government of Somalia against the Islamic terrorist militant organization. It also led to fight between the Sufi Ahlu Sunna Waljama’a (a paramilitary group in Somalia consisting of moderate Sufis opposing the radical Islamist groups) and Al-Shabaab (a militant group also known as the Movement of Striving Youth which pledged allegiance to a higher islamist militant organization, Al-Qaeda, in 2012).

Eventually, the African Union peacekeeping troops joined in assisting the Government of Somalia, also on 16 October, 2011, the Kenyan Army entered into Somalia to fight against Al-Shabaab. The next year, 2012, Kismayo (a port city, which is the commercial capital of the southern lower Juba province of the country) was captured from the militant.

Kismayo, a city with a population of about 90,000, was in 2006 under the control of the Islamist militants.

MSF in North-East Nigeria provides medical care to IDP’s including women during pregnancy and childbirth. The group also provides nutrition programs for children, response to disease outbreaks and emergency pediatric care through its dedicated emergency teams.

The Internally Displaced Persons depends mainly on humanitarian assistance for food, water, health care, and even shelter, as there is apparently no means of livelihood for the 2million IDP’s.

The MSF also provides malaria prevention drugs for children under the age of 5, as well as breastfeeding mothers during rainy seasons.

Boko Haram, also known as the Islamic State in West Africa, currently led by Abubakar Shekau (since 2009) following the death of its founder Mohammed Yusuf, was started as a nonviolent group in 2002 with a goal to purify Islam in northern Nigeria.


Abubakar Shekau, the leader of the deadly Boko Haram terrorist group

The sect in 2015 was regarded as the most deadliest terror group by the Global Terrorism Index.

In 2015, under the leadership of Shekau, Boko Haram pledged allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq.

Shekau who is well known for many gruesome attacks carried out by the sect under his leadership is from a village called ‘Shekau’ in Yobe State.

As a little boy, he left his village for Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State, in search of Islamic Knowledge as an “Almajiri boy” under the late founder of the sect, Mohammed Yusuf.

According to his mother, Falmata Abubakar, during an interview with Voice of America (VOA), she has not seen her boy for over 15 years.

“I don’t know whether he is dead or alive, only God knows, I have not seen him in the last 15 years,” She said.

“I did not set my eyes on him since he came into contact with Mohammed Yusuf,” she added.

His late father was the imam of Shekau village in Yobe.

After its founder Yusuf was killed, the group became more radical, carrying out more attacks, including suicide bombing, abduction of innocent citizens (the abduction of over 200 Chibok School Girls and recently the abduction of over 100 Dapchi School Girls).

The recent abduction in Dapchi, Yobe State, was carried out by a faction of the sect led by Abu Musab Al-Barnawi, the son of Boko Haram founder Mohammed Yusuf.

Abu-Musab-al-Barnawi new Boko Haram leader

Abu-Musab-al-Barnawi new Boko Haram leader

The Federal Government of Nigeria however immediately negotiated the release of the girls, but one girl was left behind, her name is Leah Sharibu.

The terror group wanted her to denounce Christianity and accept Islam, but she refused despite the threats that she won’t be allowed to go with her schoolmates if she refuses to denounce her religion and accept Islam. She held on to her faith in Christ and watched as her friends were released to go back home without her.

Leah has so far spent 6 months in Boko Haram captivity. But the President Muhammadu Buhari’s government had promised to ensure her release.

The group has so far spread into Cameroon, Niger, and Chad.

Abubakar Shekau who was not heard from in months, with many considering him already dead or critically injured, recently released a video in July encouraging his followers to use the blood of innocent people in purifying the land.

Doctors Without Borders runs a 100 bed inpatient therapeutic feeding center which currently treats between 70 to 80 malnourished children weekly. The group also runs an outpatient feeding center in Fori with more than 2,000 children currently enrolled.

In Somalia, when the war between government forces and islamist militants was intense, Life Line Africa offered free ambulance service in the capital of the country, Mogadishu.

The ambulance was reportedly paid for with donated funds from local and expatriate. A toll-free number (777) was also provided for residents to call for help.

This free ambulance service cost about $3,200 to run monthly. Each of the 10 drivers working with Life Line Africa was receiving $200 monthly as salary. And the monthly running cost also included fueling and other running costs.

The Nigerian Air Force also engages in medical outreach programme to the IDPs in their various camps across the North-East region as part of its corporate social responsibilities and humanitarian support to victims of Boko Haram insurgency.

About 300,000 IDPs have so far benefited from the NAF medical outreach programme since 2015.

In December 2017, AVM Olatokunbo Adesanya, the Nigerian Air Force Director of Public Relations and Information, had in an interview in Abuja, the capital of Nigeria, noted that the Air Force devotes a lot of resources to cater for the needs of IDPs in North-East.

NAF established two emergency hospitals in IDPs camps in Bama and Dalori, adding that the service had conducted medical outreach programme all over the ravage region including Yobe and Adamawa.

“We have also organised training programmes for for IDPs in their various camps across the country, especially in the North-East, to improve their standard of living.

“Whenever it becomes necessary, we transport IDPs from their various camps and villages to NAF established hospitals in Maiduguri for better attention.

“Those who have cataracts were operated upon, and had their sights restored, and were given free eye glasses, as well,” Adesanya said.

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