Darren Kew, executive director of the University of Massachusetts Boston’s Center for Peace, Democracy, and Development, is emerging as a leading national expert on the Boko Haram kidnappings in Nigeria.
Ever since Kew was a guest on On Point with Tom Ashbrook on May 1, he has done interviews with such media outlets as the BBC, CBS, CBC, Sirius XM, and People.
“Boko Haram is pushing to swap some of the girls for its jailed fighters, while the remainder of the girls have probably been broken into smaller clusters, so it will be difficult to get them back,” said Kew, an associate professor of conflict resolution, human security, and global governance in the McCormack Graduate School. “The capture of the girls is the tip of the iceberg for Boko Haram, which is a major insurgency in northeastern Nigeria. There are much deeper roots that need to be addressed.”
Boko Haram kidnapped more than 250 Nigerian girls from their schools on April 14. The situation earned worldwide media attention after the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls emerged on Twitter on April 23. Kew said it wasn’t just the shock of what happened that has created a call for action from celebrities and the U.S. government, but the delayed action of the Nigerian government.
“The moment caught Boko Haram at its most brutal and the Nigerian government at its most callous at the same time,” Kew said.
Kew, who has traveled to and researched northeastern Nigeria, says Boko Haram is a radical fringe movement that has been active for years. He says they have their own ideas of a utopian society and that they are indiscriminate when it comes to their targets, killing adults and children, and Christians and Muslims. He’s not sure if this new attention on the movement will have an impact, either in the short or long term.
“I’ve done quite a bit of research on Boko Haram. The Nigerian government doesn’t usually react quickly. There’s an election coming up in 2015 and the opposition in Nigeria may be able to use this to unseat the government. We’ll see,” he said.
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