Boko Haram by numbers: There was no #JeSuisCharlie moment for 2,000 killed in Nigeria

By Sarakshi Rai for FirstPost here. 

While the world is still reeling from the massacre that left 17 people dead at the horrific Paris shootings, the reports of hundreds, possibly thousands, of people massacred by Boko Haram got less press coverage than it deserved.

Boko Haram fighters. IBNLive

Even in Nigeria President Goodluck Jonathan expressed sympathy to the French but said nothing about reports of at least 2000 people being massacred in Baga, reports the BBC.

The abduction of nearly 300 schoolgirls from Chibok in April, by fighters of the extremist group Boko Haram received wide attention from social media campaigners and the news media with #BringBackOurGirls going viral. Even the US first lady took to Twitter to publicise the social media campaign.

But recent events in Nigeria have been overshadowed by news from Paris, Sydney, Gaza and Ukraine. Unfortunately, as brought to light in a Washington Post report, the escalating violence in northern Nigeria has at times been cast as a local curiosity even by those trying to encourage greater action against Boko Haram.

According to the latest data from the Nigeria Social Violence Dataset , the insurgency in the country’s northeastern states is slowly turning into one of the largest areas of violence in Africa, and now could be classified as a  major global conflict. Data compiled at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) that tracks social conflict in Nigeria gives us an idea on just how deadly the Boko Haram insurgency has become.

Taken from Nigerian and international media reports, the dataset provides dates, locations, protagonists and lines of division in thousands of incidents. According to the data since July 2009, when the Boko Haram conflict escalated, at least 11,100 people have died on all sides of the insurgency. This accounts for almost 40 percent of the total deaths in our dataset, more than any other source of social violence.

Firstpost looks at the numbers.

1.  2,000 estimated dead in deadly Baga Massacre 

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Boko Haram destroyed at least 16 towns and villages in a major attack in northeast Nigeria, local officials said on Thursday, as President Goodluck Jonathan kicked off his campaign for re-election, AFP reported.

Nigeria however has since said the number of people who lost their lives was no more than 150 and the dead included “many of the terrorists” who had attacked the town, according to the defense ministry.  Nigeria has been known to underestimate death tolls to downplay the threat of Boko Haram.

2. 7,000 plus people have died in Nigeria because of the Boko Haram insurgency

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According to the data more than 7,000 people have died in incidents related to the insurgency between July 2013 and June 2014. These deaths account for more than a quarter of all the recorded deaths in the past 15 years. Since January 2014 until October 2014, more than 5,000 people have died.

3. 11,200 plus Nigerians have been killed in insurgencies since 2009

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An estimated 3,120 civilian and military casualties were recorded in Afghanistan last year. In Iraq, 4,207 fatalities were estimated in 2011 in the wake of the surge. The worsening conflict in northern Nigeria already has suffered more casualties this year than the world’s most publicised contemporary wars.

4. 273 girls abducted from a school by Boko Haram spawning #BringBackOurGirls hashtag

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Parents of 200 Nigerian schoolgirls kidnapped by Islamist rebels in April said they were appealing directly to the United Nations for help after losing hope that the Nigerian government would rescue them. But international awareness of the incident took a few days and was fuelled by the Twitter accounts of several celebrities in the #BringBackOurGirls campaign. US first lady Michelle Obama, singer Justin Timberlake, actors Sean Penn, Ashton Kutcher and Jessica Biel took part in the campaign, and posted their photographs next to banners reading “Real men don’t buy girls”.

5. 10 year old suicide bomber kills 19 people in market

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A bomb strapped to a girl aged around 10-years-old exploded in a busy market place in the Nigerian city of Maiduguri on Saturday, killing at least 16 people and injuring more than 20, security sources said.

“The explosive devices were wrapped around her body and the girl looked no more than 10-years-old,” a police source said.

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