July 30, 2009: Reports by the New York Times state that Nigerian government forces killed the deputy leader of a fundamentalist Islamic sect. This comes after four continued days of violence in Northern Nigeria, killing hundreds of civilians in attacks by Islamic radicals. The Nigerian government staged a fierce attack on a stronghold through bombing and firing shots into a mosque. However, the leader of Boko Harem, an Islamic fundamentalist group, Mohammed Yusuf is still at large.
The tense situation in Nigeria is deteriorating for civilians desperately barricading themselves away from the violence. Streets stand empty, shops are boarded up, and phone lines are down, making life especially difficult for Nigerians. To complicate the situation, food is scarce and violence is up; people do not want to be caught amidst the military and militants fighting.
Anti-Education Islamists Attack Cities in Northern Nigeria
Coordinated attacks by Islamic radicals in three northern Nigerian cities on Monday, July 27th have left dozens dead. The violence involved an hours-long gun battle in Potiskum, where militants also set fire to a police station. Similar attacks took place in Maiduguri and Wudil.
According to the BBC, two anti-Western-education groups are responsible for the clashes. One calls itself Boko Haram, meaning “education is prohibited”; another refers to itself as Nigeria’s Taliban.
About half of Nigeria’s 150 million people are Muslims, who mostly live in the north, and half are south-dwelling Christians. Northern Nigeria already implements sharia law, but Boko Haram’s views toward education are considered radical and out of step with those of most of the nation’s Islamic sects. Among most of Nigeria’s population, local traditions trump extreme Islamist ideas.
Nigerian girl: At SOS, boys and girls are given equal educations.
SOS Children’s Villages in Nigeria to Provide Safe Homes for Children
Nigeria, a former British colony that is Africa’s most populous country, has never been free from ethnic and religious strife. Nationwide poverty and competition for oil in the Niger River Delta have fueled ethnic tensions. Perceived discrimination on the part of various groups has fed violence of various degrees for years.
Throughout history, Nigeria’s civil war, factional unrest, and poverty have combined to create orphaned and abandoned children. SOS Children’s Villages, a worldwide charity devoted to providing family-based care for such children, has been in Nigeria since 1973. In a country where the literacy rate, especially for girls, is relatively low, education is the key to a better life.
Girls and Boys Receive Equal Treatment at SOS Facilities
SOS operates three Children’s Villages in Nigeria—in Lagos, Owu-Ijebu, and Gwagwalada - as well as three kindergartens, three schools, and a vocational training center. Girls who attend SOS schools are given the same treatment and education as boys. SOS offers education to the children in its Villages and to neighborhood children.
To ensure that a vulnerable Nigerian child finds a loving SOS mother, a welcoming SOS home, and a productive future through education, consider sponsoring an SOS child.