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Boko Haram victims adopt begging, early marriage for survival, says report

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Victims of Boko Haram activities in the North East have adopted street begging, early marriage and drugs as means of survival, a new report has revealed.

The report released at the weekend by Nextier Security, Peace and Development (SPD), an international development consulting firm based in Nigeria, was entitled ‘Entrenching Peace: Assessing Community Resilience and Peace Building Initiatives in North East Nigeria’. The European Union (EU) and British Council sponsored it.

At the presentation of the report to journalists and civil society organisations in Abuja, Professor Haruna Dlakwa of the University of Maiduguri, who was part of the research team, observed that challenges around the outbreak of insurgency in the North had made life difficult for the people, which led to adoption of some coping mechanism for survival.

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According to him, the protracted insurgency significantly disrupted social and economic lives, with many residents now living in abject poverty away from their homes.

His words: “Street begging is one of the major coping strategies the people developed. This is not to say that government’s assistance was not there, but it was not going round. Group eating, campaign and enlightenment on the need for them to have forgiving spirit were also adopted.

“Also, the rate of marriage has been very high among the people. The women see it as a means of survival. They also resorted to use of herbs and charms to protect themselves.”

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The don added that criminal activities such as bribery and theft were very prominent, as some residents had become middlemen who supply petrol and other needs to terrorists.

“The disgruntled elders, who have lost control of their family, also adopted indiscriminate use of drugs as survival strategy.

“Women made efforts to provide for their families by venturing into various businesses, including knitting and hair making.”

The report recommended more coordinated efforts by the government at all levels to effectively manage the humanitarian interventions in the region. It urged the government to seek the buy-in of the people and ensure their views were incorporated in the Demobilisation, Disarmament, Rehabilitation and Reintegration (DDRR) programme for ex-Boko Haram members, for credible reintegration of the repentant terrorists into the communities.

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