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.
Speaking out for the first time on the horrific kidnapping, President Obama on Tuesday called the abduction of the Nigerian school girls “heartbreaking” and “outrageous.”
It’s been 22 days since the 276 girls were taken from their school by extremist militants from the Islamist terror group Boko Haram, which translates to “western education is sinful.” The group has since threatened to sell the girls into slavery.
The girls’ plight has attracted international condemnation and spurred a global call to action.
“You’ve got one of the worst regional or local terrorist organizations in Boko Haram in Nigeria, they’ve been killing people ruthlessly for many years now and we’ve already been seeking greater cooperation with the Nigerians – this may be the event that helps to mobilize the entire international community to finally do something against this horrendous organization that’s perpetrated such a terrible crime,” the president told ABC News’ Ginger Zee.
On Tuesday, the White House announced it is sending a team to Nigeria to aid the effort to find the girls and those responsible, amid criticism that the Nigerian government has not done enough to rescue them.
A man claiming to be the leader of an Al Qaeda-trained terrorist group holding 223 girls snatched from a Nigerian school threatened Monday to sell them as brides — even those as young as 9.
In a shocking 57-minute video, a man professing to be Abubakar Shekau called women “slaves” and ranted that Allah gave him permission to sell the abducted girls for as little as $12.
It was the first time the group, called Boko Haram, boasted responsibility for the April 15 mass abductions at the Chibok Girls Secondary School in northeast Nigeria. “I abducted your girls. I will sell them in the market, by Allah. I will sell them off and marry them off,” the man in the video railed, while holding an assault rifle.
Nigerian officials were attempting to confirm if the speaker is Shekau, who they believed had been killed in a 2009 clash with security forces.
“I will marry off a woman at the age of 12. I will marry off a girl at the age of 9,” the man says on the tape released Monday to Western media outlets. An intermediary for the group has told Nigerian officials that Boko Haram — which in the Nigerian language Hausa means “Western education is sinful” — is prepared to negotiate ransoms.