Boko Haram far from defeated

Latest attack makes mockery of President's claims.
Muhammadu Buhari.
Muhammadu Buhari.

A twin bombing that killed 58 people at a camp in a northeastern Nigerian town last week underlies the destructive capacity of Boko Haram that's left 3 million people cut off from access to aid two months after President Muhammadu Buhari said the Islamist militant group had been defeated.

The camp at Dikwa stands in a town where shops and homes have been deserted by residents who fled Boko Haram's onslaught, before it was liberated in July. About 53,000 displaced people live in tents pitched on an expanse of arid land guarded by soldiers in an area about 89km from the Borno state capital of Maiduguri.

They're among those who can't be reached by aid organisations from United Nations to Oxfam, who won't venture there due to security concerns. Buhari said in December that Nigerians displaced by the violence would be returned home this year and that Boko Haram had been "technically defeated". Borno, the worst hit state, needs more than US$1 billion ($1.5 billion) to repair damage done by the insurgency.

"I have spent two days without food," said Baana Masa, a 56-year widower in Dikwa who lines up every day with his two children hoping their turn comes before the food runs out.

"We escaped Boko Haram's manhunt and now we are facing hunger."

As attacks continue in the northeast, Maiduguri, home to about two-thirds of 2.2 million displaced people in accessible zones, and Yola, the capital of neighbouring Adamawa state, remain some of the few places with the minimum level of safety required for international aid workers to operate. By the end of January, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs had received 4 per cent of the US$248 million it is seeking from donors this year for Nigerian victims, including 4 million people considered "severely food insecure"

Boko Haram insurgents continue to carry out suicide bombings and hit-and-run attacks in Nigeria's northeast, despite losing territory in the region since early last year. The group's campaign to establish its version of Islamic law in Africa's largest economy has left thousands of people dead since 2009.

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