Boko Haram’s war on Nigeria’s north is creating a massive refugee problem for Nigeria’s major cities, according to reports.
Nigeria’s Sun newspaper reports the refugees are escaping Borno, Yobe and Adamawa States and fleeing to Lagos, the nation’s largest city.
The report adds that the massive number of people is creating another humanitarian crisis. Lagos has not set up any refugee camps for the people fleeing to the city.
While there are no exact estimates on the number of people who have left the northern half of the country, a World Watch Monitor report says that a majority of the refugees from the north are Christians fleeing the brutality of Boko Haram.
A U.N. report says Boko Haram’s war on the government of Nigeria is the cause of an ongoing flood of refugees leaving Nigeria and fleeing into neighboring nations.
United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees spokesman Babar Baloch said in a statement to the press that more than 11,000 refugees crossed into Cameroon and Chad in August alone. The report also says as many as 15,000 people have fled to Niger’s Diffa region since the beginning of August.
Thomas stresses his belief that reciting refugee figures takes the human element away from the issue. Thomas said when Americans think about refugees, the American people need to put themselves in the refugee’s place.
“Imagine being drawn from your home by the screams of neighbors and friends to see a militia rolling down the street toward you, your family, your home,” he said. “Imagine, in that moment, gathering your children, grabbing what you could, and running for your lives without food, water, or any promise of security. That is the reality of nearly one million Nigerians.”
Thomas said it’s not enough to be sympathetic.
“It’s a reality that demands action by every capable international actor to see to Boko Haram’s end, and to the restoration of a generation of West Africans,” Thomas said.
He argued that both the cause of the problem and the answer should be clear.
“ICC’s concern is the well-being of those displaced and the recognition that Boko Haram is the cause,” Thomas said. “Therefore, to stem the rising tide of displaced persons and refugees, Boko Haram must be defeated and the conditions for its rise remedied.”
Intelligence and human-rights analysts say conditions for Nigeria’s Christians will only worsen because of Boko Haram’s networking with other jihadist groups.
WND reported this week that Boko Haram has developed an information sharing connection with the Islamic State.
Maha Hamdan, an analyst for Consultancy Africa Intelligence and IntelligenceCommunity.com, confirms the link-up, calling it a dangerous development.
She believes the weakness of the Nigerian army in its war against Boko Haram is “one of the major reasons for the rise of the Boko Haram and ISIS alliance.”
“We are standing at the precipice of the birth of a new radical Islam,” she said.
WND also reported on an extension of Boko Haram’s networking capabilities through the group’s leadership planting a network of jihad-teaching madrassas in Nigeria that are funded by Saudi and Gulf State money.
Hussein Solomon, University of the Free State professor and analyst for the Israel-based think tank Research on Islam and Muslims in Africa, said the expansion of jihad into sub-Saharan Africa is bad news for Christians and other groups who don’t embrace the radicalism.
“We’re going to see more pastors and priests get killed and more churches being burned,” he said. “Because of this, there will be more attacks on churches. There will be more attacks on interfaith groups as well. The radicals are creating hard dichotomies between black and white, between ‘us’ and ‘them.’”