Nigeria’s Girls Have Been Held Captive for Three Months

The Nigerian government is practically telling them, “You’re on your own.”

Activists from a coalition of more than 40 African women organisations march on May 15, 2014 in the streets of Kenya's capital Nairobi demanding the release of more than 300 schoolgirls abducted from schools in nothern Nigeria by muslim extremist group Boko Haram.
National Journal
Emma Roller
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Emma Roller
July 14, 2014, 9:30 a.m.

It’s been 91 days since nearly 300 Ni­geri­an girls were forced out of their beds at gun­point and loaded onto trucks by mem­bers of the ter­ror­ist group Boko Haram. And, hon­estly, there hasn’t been much news to re­port since last month. But that’s the point.

This is go­ing the way of Kony 2012 — a hasht­ag, flash-in-the-pan in­ter­na­tion­al cov­er­age, then ra­dio si­lence any­where out­side of the coun­try. Boko Haram con­tin­ues to openly taunt the Ni­geri­an gov­ern­ment’s about its in­ac­tion. Aside from the U.S. pledge to send ad­vis­ory troops, the only con­gres­sion­al sup­port it’s got­ten is a stray tweet here and there.

However, there has been some good news. Last week, Agence France-Presse re­por­ted that 63 of the girls were able to es­cape their captors and re­turn home. And the girls’ fam­il­ies have found an ally in Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani teen­ager who sur­vived be­ing shot in the head by Taliban ter­ror­ists. Malala vis­ited Ni­ger­ia over the week­end to draw at­ten­tion to the kid­nap­pings and ask Ni­geri­an Pres­id­ent Good­luck Jonath­an to take ac­tion. “They are my sis­ters, and I’m go­ing to speak up for them un­til they are re­leased,” she told the girls’ fam­il­ies.

Of course, Jonath­an’s gov­ern­ment has claimed it’s do­ing as much as it can to bring back the girls. An an­onym­ous source told CBS that “back­door chan­nels re­main open,” and said res­cue ef­forts were abor­ted at the last second on three sep­ar­ate oc­ca­sions. A Boko Haram lead­er has also offered to ne­go­ti­ate a pris­on­er swap, but the Ni­geri­an gov­ern­ment has been un­re­cept­ive to the idea.

All these prom­ises for ac­tion have failed to con­sole Ni­ger­ia’s cit­izens. In the three months since the girls’ ab­duc­tion, Jonath­an did not met with their fam­il­ies — though he is ex­pec­ted to do so later on Monday. But, for now, as the days, weeks, and months tick on, the Ni­geri­an gov­ern­ment is telling these girls and their fam­il­ies that if they want to re­gain their free­dom from vi­ol­ent ex­trem­ists, they’ll have to go it alone.

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