Over 130 schools in Cameroon closed due to Boko Haram attacks in neighboring Nigeria. Cameroon shares a 1,242 mile border with Nigeria and over 310 of those miles border Borno state, which is controlled by the terrorist group.
“The diagnosis is going on if there are some which are destroyed or occupied because some of the schools were temporarily occupied,” said Ministry of Secondary Education’s Monouna Fotso. “I am telling you we are preoccupied, very preoccupied by this situation. It is the whole government, it is not only the Ministry of Secondary Education, that is preoccupied.”
Boko Haram means “Western education is forbidden” and they prefer to target schools. Fotso said the majority of students fled deeper into Cameroon for safety.
“If there are some localities where the situation is so bad, at the level of the government, we will relocate some schools,” he said. “At that moment also, we will bring the staff and students to new sites. The objective of this Boko Haram is to traumatize our citizens.”
Boko Haram hit Amchide, Fotocol, Kolofata, Ashigashia, and Kiti Matari the hardest. Over 30% of the schools in Ashigashia closed two months ago when the jihadist group occupied the town.
“We shut down because of the prevailing security situation,” said one official in Fotocol. “Rockets are being fired so frequently in town that we are fearful they could kill our students.”
A tiny river separates Amchide from Nigeria, but it is gone due to the dry season. Only elderly residents remain in the town with soldiers on the streets to fight off any militants.
“Almost every has gone,” said 82-year-old Ahmadou Musa. “I’m an old man. I don’t see the need to go anywhere.”
Musa did send his wives and children away for their safety. The terrorists murdered hundreds of residents when they invaded the town earlier in the year.
In April, Boko Haram abducted over 300 Nigerian schoolgirls from Chibok. Boko Haram still holds the majority of the girls hostage. Leader Abubakar Shekau said the girls “converted to Islam, already “married off,” and in their marital homes.” The militants captured Chibok in November. The group murdered over fifty students in their sleep in September 2013 at the Yobe State College of Agriculture.