Ashley Hart is a senior international studies major.
In the wake of the terrorist attacks that shook Paris to its core, upwards of three million people took to the streets of Paris in an expression of solidarity that many claim is the largest in France’s history. As leaders from around the world joined hand in hand through the streets of Paris, the streets in northeastern Nigeria were crowded with something that didn’t seem to capture the media’s attention: corpses.
Boko Haram has carried out heinous acts of terrorism in Nigeria since 2009, deliberately targeting civilians through an unrelenting series of raids and horrific attacks. Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, is suffering unspeakable hardship as the Boko Haram attacks become increasingly savage and frequent. Mainstream media has turned a blind eye as Boko Haram continues to carry out its murderous campaign of terror on a grisly scale. The kidnapping of over 200 innocent young schoolgirls by Boko Haram militants received unprecedented media attention and generated statements from world leaders demanding that Boko Haram “bring back our girls,” but coverage of the increasingly violent attacks on innocent civilians in Nigeria has been strangely absent in recent news reports. While only a few thousand miles apart, the juxtaposition of reactions and awareness of the tragic events taking place in France and Nigeria raises some serious questions. Social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook flooded with heartwarming expressions of solidarity and support for the people of France, while news outlets across the world lamented over the twelve people tragically slain in the Paris terrorist attacks; meanwhile, Baga, a city that has received far less attention in northeastern Nigeria was experiencing what Amnesty International claims is the most deadly attack by Boko Haram since its inception.
Amnesty International reports that the attacks on Baga and surrounding areas in northeastern Nigeria may have resulted in the death of more than two thousand people. According to Daniel Eyre, a researcher for Amnesty International, “If reports that the town was largely razed to the ground and that hundreds or even as many as two thousand civilians were killed are true, this marks a disturbing and bloody escalation of Boko Haram’s ongoing onslaught against the civilian population.” Entire families were massacred and communities burned to the ground in recent attacks that lasted days, hardly leaving anyone to bury the bodies of those slain; yet international news sources have done little to bring attention to this chilling escalation of violence. Recent reports from Nigerian officials and military officials from Chad reveal that Chadian forces have successfully seized control of Malam Fatori, a town in the North of Nigeria that has been under Boko Haram’s control since at least October. The recapturing of Malam Fatori may mark a significant change in the trajectory of this harrowing struggle as African leaders begin to join forces; however, this recent development concerning regional efforts to recapture territories controlled by Boko Haram received a staggeringly small amount of media attention and the outcome of regional military cooperation in such a tense and fragile region is still unknown.