Remembering victims of terrorism

The United Nations pauses on August 21 annually to remember and pay tribute to victims of terrorism. Terrorism represents what is arguably the greatest evil of the modern world. This tragedy of creed and cruelty has made the world riotously unsafe as things stand. Today, more than ever, its victims are deserving of reflection, attention, action, and tribute.

In Nigeria, the effects of terrorism are as stark as they come. In April 2014, a bomb went off in the Nyanya Area of the FCT. About 15 people were killed and many more injured. In April 2011, a bomb went off at the UN office in Abuja killing 21 people and wounding about sixty. In December, 2011 while worshipers looked with eager expectation at Christmas that was just a few hours away, a bomb went off, killing dozens and leaving many others injured.

In Northeast Nigeria, the devastation is simply indescribable. Many innocent lives either been ended or turned upside down.

Entire communities have been sacked, with  countless buildings reduced to rubble; innumerable livelihoods have also been wiped out as terrorism has sought to make a victim out of Africa’s biggest country.

In April 2014, terrorists attacked the Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok Borno State. Hundreds of girls were abducted. The iniquitous attack was reprised a few months later in Dapchi, Yobe State. Some girls are yet to return until this day. The list goes on. In states like Benue, Kaduna, Plateau and Nasarawa, systematic killings have sought to decimate entire communities which the government tragically prefers to describe as farmer-herder conflict.

On January 22, 2010, while unsuspecting villagers slept in Dogon Nahawa in Plateau State, heavily armed killers made a hasty descent from the surrounding hills. By the time they reluctantly retreated, well over four hundred villagers lay dead. Many of the victims were women and children.

On March 28, 2022, Nigeria was rocked by an audacious terrorist attack on a passenger train travelling from Abuja to Kaduna. Nine Nigerians were killed, and more than sixty others abducted. The six months they spent in the hands of their captors, who took turns to cruelly taunt Nigeria, were some of the most humiliating for Nigerians in recent memory.

The point is largely that terrorism has made a victim of every Nigerian. There is hardly a Nigerian that has not been affected in one way or the other. The disintegration of the country’s security architecture, especially under the horrendously inept administration of Muhammadu Buhari has left a country very much on the edge, a country scarred by fear.

The news is always inundated by terrorist attacks. People are killed everyday by those whose stock-in-trade is terror. Acts of terrorism propagating a wide-range of hateful ideologies continue to injure, harm and kill thousands of innocent people each year.

Despite international condemnation of terrorism, victims, and survivors of terrorism often struggle to have their voices heard, their needs supported, and their rights upheld. Victims typically feel forgotten and neglected once the immediate aftermath of a terrorist attack fades, with profound consequences for them.

Few countries have the resources or the capacity to fulfil the medium and long-term needs of victims of terrorism to enable them to fully recover, rehabilitate and re-integrate into society.  Most victims can only recover and cope with their trauma through long-term multidimensional support, including physical, psychological, social and financial.

Countries have the primary responsibility to support victims of terrorism and uphold their rights. The United Nations has an important role in supporting countries to implement the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy by standing in solidarity and providing support to victims of terrorism; offering capacity building assistance; establishing networks; and offering support to civil society organisations, particularly victims’ associations; and encouraging countries to promote, protect and respect the rights of victims of terrorism.

The United Nations provides technical assistance and capacity-building to Member States and victims’ associations in better addressing the needs of victims of terrorism. In recent years, terrorist activities have been on the rise in Africa. Indeed, there are fears that Africa is fast becoming the epicenter of terrorism.

Multiple terrorist attacks every year have meant multiple victims every other year. The toll has been very great indeed. Entire families have been wiped out with their livelihoods leaving deserted communities behind. Survivors of terrorism and terrorist acts always need to be supported to reclaim whatever is left of their lives.

These support services which are psychological as well as social and economical are vital but not always readily available. Improving these services is a no-brainer. This is because unless communities are empowered to recover what was lost to terrorism, terrorism would have won.

BY: Willie-Nwobu

SOURCE: The Guardian

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