Footballer Launches Campaign to Help Boko Haram Victims
THOMSON REUTERS FOUNDATION
Africa’s most decorated footballer, Samuel Eto’o, is appealing for funding to help people escaping violence in Nigeria and Cameroon, and he warned that the world is neglecting an escalating humanitarian crisis in West Africa.
A six-year campaign by militant group Boko Haram in northeast Nigeria has killed thousands, uprooted 2.2 million people within the country, and driven 160,000 Nigerians to seek refuge in Cameroon, Chad and Niger.
Yet Eto’o, Cameroon’s record goal scorer, fears the conflict and ensuing displacement are being ignored as global attention remains fixed upon Europe’s burgeoning migration crisis.
“There are different classes of crisis now. … No one seems to notice the displaced in Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria,” the four-time African player of the year and two-time African Nations Cup winner told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
“When you see the population in refugee camps growing from 6,000 to 50,000 people in less than a year, you realize how serious the situation is,” he said.
Eto’o launched his Yellow Whistle Blower Football Club initiative in March 2015. The money raised is being used by the nongovernmental organization Oxfam and the United Nations refugee agency to help those displaced and provide food, water and medicine to people living in makeshift refugee camps.
“The initiative is an opportunity to give voices and faces to all the Boko Haram victims,” the former Real Madrid, Barcelona, Inter Milan and Chelsea striker said. “The media only talks about the conflict, not the people who live with it each day.”
Boko Haram controlled swaths of territory in three states in northeastern Nigeria at the start of 2015 but was pushed out by Nigerian troops with the help of Cameroon, Chad and Niger. Now factions of the heavily splintered militant group have reverted to guerrilla tactics, raiding villages for supplies and bombing places of worship, markets and bus stations.