The Bishop of the Anglican Communion and Leader of the Northern Christian Forum said that it is “soul-wrecking” that the over 200 Nigerian schoolgirls kidnapped by Islamic militants in April have still not been rescued two months later.
Bishop Emeritus Emmanuel Kana Mani said that the fate of the girls is a “sad commentary,” and called on the country’s leaders to work toward a peaceful coexistence between Nigerian Christians and Muslims, who are roughly evenly split in terms of numbers and across geographical lines, Codewit World News reported.
It has been two months since Islamic militants Boko Haram stormed an all-girls school in Chibok on April 14 and took over 200 students. The militants, who have been waging a war on Nigeria and the country’s Christians for close to five years, posted videos of the kidnapped girls and declared that they would be sold as child brides.
“It is now four years or five years that you arrested our brethren and they are still in your prison. You are doing many things to them and now you are talking about these girls? We will never release them until after you release our brethren,” Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau declares in one of the videos, though the Nigerian government refused a deal to swap some of the schoolgirls for captured prisoners.
At the end of May, Chief of Defense Staff Air Marshal Alex Badeh reported that the army knows where the girls are being kept, but admitted that they cannot attack the militants for fear it might endanger the girls’ lives.
The U.S. and U.K. have sent military teams into Nigeria to help with the search for the girls, but so far they remain captive.
Politicians, celebrities, musicians and concerned citizens around the world have taken part in the social media campaign #BringBackOurGirls, advocating for the return of about 300 girls who were abducted from the Chibok Government Girls Secondary School in Nigeria last month.
And while it’s clear the campaign won’t erase the systemic issues in the country, the hashtag has undisputedly shed light on the situation, keeping Boko Haram — the Islamist militant group behind the kidnappings — and the missing girls firmly in the spotlight.
To date, the hashtag, which started tending in Nigeria about two weeks ago, has been retweeted more than a million times.
Here are a few notable individuals who have lent their voices to the campaign.
In a special televised media event this weekend, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan vowed to continue to look for a group of missing schoolgirls recently abducted by Islamic rebels. He told the nation’ security forces and government officials that “everything must be done” to bring the girls home. And now, he’s reaching out to the United States for help.
On April 15, rebels from the radical Islamic group Boko Haram—who oppose “western education”—kidnapped more than 300 young school girls on the same day that they carried out a terrorist bus bombing, killing nearly 100 in the country’s capital. Though 53 of the students have escaped, at least 276 remain captive. According to some reports, some of the girls have been trafficked outside of the country and sold as child brides.