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Nigeria

The Complicated Recovery Of Former Boko Haram Hostages

More than 270 women and children who were held captive by Boko Haram have been rescued and are recovering in Nigeria, but treatment and taboos are tricky to navigate.

Screenshot of a Boko Haram video showing the "Chibok girls" kidnapped in April 2014
Screenshot of a Boko Haram video showing the "Chibok girls" kidnapped in April 2014
Maureen Grisot

YOLA — These women, whose eyes were shadowed by sorrow and resignation when they arrived in Yola in early May, are little by little smiling again. It was to this eastern Nigeria town, near the Cameroon border, that the Nigerian army brought them after rescuing them from the Sambisa Forest, where Boko Haram fighters held them captive for months. Seventy women and more than 200 distressed and scrawny children, their bellies swollen from malnutrition, ended up in this camp sheltering hundreds of people who fled villages attacked by Islamists.

Fatima was not able to leave her house near Maiduguri in time, before the men with the black flags started shooting and burning everything in their path in December 2014. She was taken prisoner with her 18-month-old daughter. "We went through several towns before arriving in the forest," she says. "In addition to my daughter, I had to take care of seven children from my neighborhood, who were separated from their parents when we were kidnapped. It wasn't easy because we didn't have enough food. I often didn't eat. The children were my priority."

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Geopolitics

Our 'Emotional' Divide: How The Ukraine War Reveals A World Broken In Two

Russia's invasion has created a stark global divide: them and us. On one side are the countries refusing to condemn Moscow, with the West on the other. It's a dangerous split that could have repercussions far into the future.

Protesters against the war in Ukraine demonstrate in front of the Russian embassy in London

Dominique Moïsi

-Analysis-

PARIS — "The West and the Rest of Us." That's the title of a 1975 essay written by Nigerian essayist and critic Chinweizu Ibekwe. I've been thinking about his words as the war in Ukraine both reveals and accelerates divisions of the world that I believe are ultimately "emotional" in nature.

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With war returning to Europe and the risk of escalation, there is a gap between the Western view and that of the "others," a distinct "us and them." This gap cannot be explained in strictly geographical, political, and economic terms.

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Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

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