Journalism of Courage

Influx of women returnee fleeing Boko Haram worries humanitarian group

Humanitarian group worries influx of women return might further escalate B/Haram insurgency in N/East Nigeria

Thousands of women fleeing insurgency in the north east Nigeria who have now returned to Maiduguri, the Borno state capital, could further escalate conflict in the region, if not properly integrated, the Belgium-based humanitarian group, International Crisis Group said Wednesday in a report.


“The return home of women could be a litmus test for male fighters, whose defection and reintegration into society is crucial to ending the insurgency. Flawed reintegration could likewise force more women to return to the insurgents,” the group said in an emailed statement.


Nigerian counteroffensive of 2015 is seen as leading the influx of more than 12,000 predominantly women and children returning from Boko Haram after areas previously held by the insurgent for years began falling back under government control.


The humanitarian group worries that women who feel disappointed by the Nigerian federal and state authorities for failing to address the challenges resulting from the influx of returnees, from their immediate protection and humanitarian needs to their eventual reintegration might find other options with insurgents.


“Many women in Nigeria’s north east saw in Boko Haram a means of access to education, public space and medical care. Many returnees expressed disappointment that their children have no access to schooling where they now live,” International Crisis Group said.


With more than 800,000 people reportedly living in “hard-to-reach areas” places where state authority is absent and Boko Haram influential, the humanitarian group worries that a further “flood of returns” could strain the daunting reintegration efforts by the Nigerian government.

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