Femi Kuti urges stars, fans to focus on Boko Haram victims

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Nigerian musician Femi Kuti has urged his fellow celebrities and their fans to take to social media and pressure the government to do more to help millions of people struggling to survive in Boko Haram-hit north-east Nigeria.

The Lagos-based Afro beat star says he wants to raise awareness among young Nigerians and encourage them to demand a greater humanitarian response.

“People need to have a sense of the reality in the northeast- from people walking around hungry to mothers with malnourished children,” Kuti said during his visit to Borno, the heart of Boko Haram’s seven-year campaign to create an Islamic caliphate.

“I hope more celebrities will visit and engage with their fans,” Kuti told the Thomson Reuters Foundation after accompanying the International Rescue Committee (IRC) on visits to local communities hosting the displaced and a health clinic.

“Then more people will see what is going on, share it on social media, and put pressure on the government to do more.”

Boko Haram’s insurgency has killed about 15 000 people and forced more than two million to flee their homes since 2009.

The Nigerian army, backed up by neighbours, has retaken most areas held by the Islamist militants.

Yet the jihadist group has stepped up attacks and suicide bombings in the past few weeks as the end of the rainy season facilitates movements in the bush.

While calling on more support and aid for people in the northeast, Kuti said he was struck by the generosity of local communities towards those who uprooted by the insurgency.

“It is heartening to see so many displaced people welcomed into the homes of local families and community elders offering to give up land to displaced for farming,” Kuti said.