World Tour – Extremists in Nigeria, and Christmas in Bethlehem


MARY REICHARD, HOST: Coming up next on The World and Everything in It: World Tour with Africa correspondent Onize Ohikere.

ONIZE OHIKERE, REPORTER: Mass funeral follows attack in Nigeria—We start today here in Africa.

AUDIO: [CHANTING]

Residents of the Zabarmari community in Nigeria gathered for a mass funeral last week. They crowded around the bodies of 43 farmers and fishermen, shrouded each of them in white cloths, and prayed before laying them to rest in mass graves.

Boko Haram fighters struck the community two weeks ago, targeting agricultural workers near the village of Koshobe. It was the single deadliest attack in the region this year. Eight people are still missing.

Extremists often target rural communities in Nigeria, extorting food and money from the residents. Farmers in the region had recently refused demands for payment. A local lawyer said the latest attack was likely retaliation for that resistance.

Local leaders warn ongoing attacks on farmers could trigger famine in the region.

India mystery illness—Next, we go to Asia.

AUDIO: [YELLING, WHISTLING]

More than 300 people were hospitalized in India this weekend with a mystery illness. Dozens of people in the city of Eluru became sick Saturday night. They suffered symptoms like seizures, nausea, and vomiting. Many complained their eyes were burning. Others fell unconscious, and one man died.

Doctors aren’t sure what’s causing the symptoms. All the patients tested negative for COVID-19. And their blood tests showed no sign of a viral infection. Officials also ruled out water contamination and air pollution.

Doctors will continue to run tests and lab work to identify the cause. Over half the patients were released, while the rest are still undergoing treatment and tests.

Rohingya refugees moved to island—Next, we go to Bangladesh.

AUDIO: [CROWD]

More than 1,500 Rohingya refugees arrived on a remote island off the coast of Bangladesh on Friday. The refugees had been living in overcrowded camps in the mainland’s Cox’s Bazar district. So the government made plans to move them to a new camp on a tiny island in the Bay of Bengal.

But the island only surfaced about 20 years ago, and monsoon rains frequently submerge it. The Bangladesh navy has built flood protection embankments, houses, and hospitals for the refugees, but some aid groups still worry a strong storm could overwhelm the island.

More than a million Rohingya have fled violent persecution in Myanmar over the past three years. Many of them now live in overcrowded camps in Bangladesh, plagued by rampant disease and organized crime.

Christmas tree lighting in Bethlehem—And finally, we end today in the Middle East.

AUDIO: [SINGING]

A small group of residents and religious leaders attended the famous Bethlehem Christmas tree lighting on Saturday. The ceremony usually draws thousands of visitors, but coronavirus precautions kept the group small this year. No crowded inns or visitors from the east. But Bethlehem’s mayor said Christmas would not be canceled, and that the small ceremony in Manger Square was a message of hope to the whole world. Local officials lit the massive tree, then set off fireworks.

AUDIO: [SINGING, FIREWORKS]

That’s this week’s World Tour. Reporting for WORLD, I’m Onize Ohikere in Abuja, Nigeria.


(AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed) Palestinian Christians attend the lighting of a Christmas tree outside the Church of the Nativity, traditionally believed by Christians to be the birthplace of Jesus Christ in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, Saturday, Dec. 5, 2020. 

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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