Nigerians are demanding that their government do more to bring home the roughly 200 girls who were kidnapped more than two weeks ago on April 14 by the militant insurgency group Boko Haram.
Protesters took to the streets of Abuja and Lagos this week to criticize the Nigerian government’s handling of the mass kidnapping. Rallies are being held in the coming days in the US, Canada, and England in support of the Nigerian families who have lost their daughters, calling on the government to do more and for the terrorist group to release the girls, and a massive social media campaign using the hashtags #BringBackOurGirls and #BringBackOurDaughters has spurred greater international attention.
Armed members of Boko Haram kidnapped about 234 teenage school girls from the Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok, located in the northeast of Nigeria. Although some girls were able to escape, the fate of roughly 200 girls still remains unclear. Some parents in Chibok believe that the girls might have been trafficked into neighboring Cameroon. A group of civilians launched a search party into the forested area near the border to look for the girls. They reported fears that the girls were forced into sex slavery.
“I thought it was the end of my life,” Deborah Sanya told reporter Alexis Okeowo from the New Yorker. Sanya is one of the lucky few who was able to escape. She reportedly fled with two friends after being taken only a few villages away from the school. “Nobody rescued them,” a government official in Chibok told Okeowo. “I want you to stress this point. Nobody rescued them. They escaped on their accord. This is painful.”
Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown called on the international community to provide military assistance to the Nigerian government to help them locate the girls. “We cannot stop terrorism overnight,” said Brown. “But we can make sure that its perpetrators are aware that murdering and abducting school children is a heinous crime that the international authorities are determined to punish.” In the United States, several Senators released a bipartisan resolution today condeming the abduction and urging the US to assist in rescue efforts.
Boko Haram has a long history of terrorism in northern Nigeria. Human Rights Watch reported last year on the groups atrocious activities, which have included murder, abduction, rape, mutilation, and the use of child soldiers. The Washington Post reports that the Nigerian government may have appointed a negotiator to interface with the group concerning the Chibok girls. According to news reports, the identified negotiator says that Boko Harm is “willing to consider” a deal to release the girls.