Militant Group Pledged Allegiance to ISIS in 2015; Responsible for 51% of Terrorism Deaths Worldwide in 2014
219 of Kidnapped Chibok Girls Still Missing – U.S. Pledged $40 Million in Humanitarian Aid Last Week
WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), Co-Chair of the Senate Human Rights Caucus, hosted a briefing to examine the human rights ramifications of Boko Haram’s ongoing campaign of terror throughout northern Africa and the group’s ties to the Islamic State. Kaj Larsen, former Navy SEAL and award-winning journalist for VICE News and Mausi Segun, a Nigeria researcher for Human Rights Watch participated in the panel to discuss the ongoing military operations and the challenges faced by military personnel throughout the region, the use of young girls as suicide bombers, and the impact of the conflict on future generations. Hilary Matfess, a Research Analyst for the Center for Complex Operations at the National Defense University moderated the panel and offered her own analysis of the security and humanitarian challenges posed by Boko Haram.
Boko Haram is a Nigeria-based Islamic terrorist group that also conducts attacks in Niger, Cameroon, and Chad. They are responsible for the kidnapping of 276 girls from Chibok in 2014, 219 of whom are still missing. In addition to the missing girls, thousands more have been victimized by Boko Haram, and have been forced into domestic and sex slavery. Countless more women and girls have been forced to become brides for ISIS fighters and Boko Haram leaders. Since May 2013, 2.3 million people have been displaced by Boko Haram-related violence, including 1.3 million children. In a visit to the region last week, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power pledged $40 million in humanitarian assistance to help those who have been displaced or affected by the group’s violence.
“Boko Haram is forcing girls as young as eight years old to wear suicide vests and carry out bombings – these terrorists killed more people last year than the Islamic State,” said Senator Kirk. “Boko Haram is one of the deadliest terror groups in the world and is preventing an entire generation of children from accessing an education. It is critical that we continue to aid efforts to prevent these terrorists from hurting more families and killing more children.”
“Having worked in conflict zones for a decade as both a U.S. Navy SEAL and a journalist in places like Afghanistan, Somalia, Yemen, Burma, Colombia, Honduras, and others; Northern Nigeria stands out as one of the worst and most tragic humanitarian crisis I have ever seen,” said Kaj Larsen.
“The Boko Haram insurgency has not only claimed more than 30,000 lives, but has also created a humanitarian catastrophe in the Lake Chad Basin; it is the international community’s duty to provide humanitarian care to the estimated 2.2 million displaced. At present, this community is neglected by the state and the international community, after suffering unspeakable violence at the hands of the insurgency. The US government has an opportunity to demonstrate compassionate global leadership by advocating for the rights of the displaced and providing much needed humanitarian assistance,” said Hilary Matfess.
The Senate Human Rights Caucus was formed by Senators Kirk and Chris Coons (D-Del.) in the spirit of The Congressional Human Rights Caucus, originally created by former Congressmen Tom Lantos (D-Calif.) and John Porter (R-Ill.) in 1983. Later re-named the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, its members have been working to defend and advocate for internationally recognized human rights in a nonpartisan manner for more than 30 years. In this vein, the Senate Human Rights Caucus will continue the Commission’s legacy by highlighting and defending key human rights issues throughout the world.
In order to raise awareness on specific violations and issues, the Caucus hosts monthly staff-level briefings on key topics, as well as periodic Member-level events to boost awareness and spearhead solutions to worldwide injustices and abuses. In bringing Congressional-level attention to global human rights issues that the public may be unaware of, the Caucus will be able to provide a voice to the voiceless and work to provide a lifeline to those suffering at the hand of repressive regimes.