Kevin Sieff, THE WASHINGTON POST
NAIROBI (The Washington Post) — After years in a Boko Haram camp, the children had forgotten their native language. They couldn’t even remember their names.
They just stared past Christopher Fomunyoh when he tried to engage them. It was a rare glimpse at the human toll left by the extremists who have been fighting to create an Islamic state in Nigeria and surrounding areas.
Fomunyoh, regional director at the Washington-based National Democratic Institute, visited the children recently at an orphanage in the city of Maroua in northern Cameroon. They had been rescued by the country’s military in November from a squalid Boko Haram encampment near the border with Nigeria.
This is what he saw:
One hundred children, aged 5 to 17, without shoes in an orphanage built for 20. Hard benches for sleeping. A shortage of rice. Boys who appeared to be speaking broken Arabic, rather than one of the many languages native to Cameroon.
“There was a blankness in their eyes,” he said.