#BringBackOurGirls : Where Are They Today?
In April 2014, the world woke up to the news that Boko Haram, an Islamic extremist group in Nigeria had been kidnapped 276 school girls. It was horrifying, shocking and outrageous. There was a global uproar. Many condemned the heinous act. A viral social media campaign dubbed #BringBackOurGirls commenced soon after. So intense was it that even former first lady Michelle Obama participated. Fast forward to 2018; more than one hundred girls are still in captivity.
The Boko Haram militia group has been in operation since 2009. It violently resists the western form of lifestyle in Nigeria. Its aim is to install a caliphate system of government in all of Nigeria. Since its formation, the group has horrendously killed more than twenty thousand people and led to the displacement of more than 2 million people. It has also sworn allegiance to the equally deadly Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) better known as ISIS.
The Chibok dawn of terror began when armed militia stormed into a girls government secondary school in north-eastern Nigeria as the girl. were preparing for their final exam. The militia kidnapped them, herded them onto trucks and left. They also burned down houses in the town injuring civilians in the process.
Following the global outrage, the Nigerian government was put under pressure to move in and save the girls. The militia responded by killing 300 people in Gamboru and Ngala towns clearly sending a message that they didn’t want to be followed. This was after Nigerian forces tried to conduct a search for the girls. Though a handful of the girls managed to escape, many others remained captives.
Lethargic Rescue Efforts
The Nigerian government has been accused of laxity and incompetence in rescuing the girls. The then president of Nigeria, Jonathan Goodluck was particularly accused of lack of concern. It took him more than two weeks to publicly address the issue. Amnesty International further claims that Nigerian forces had received intelligence prior to the kidnapping but failed to act on it. John Campbell, the US Ambassador to Nigeria said that the strength of the militia seemed to be increasing while that of the Nigerian government kept on diminishing.
The fiery online #BringBackOurGirls campaign slowly died off and the world has seemed to forget. With a lesser global attention, efforts to save the girls remain lethargic. That said, the efforts made have not been without fruits. Negotiations with Boko Haram have led to the release 150 Chibok girls. But 113 are still missing.
The United States has also been instrumental in the efforts. A team of experts in investigations, intelligence, victim assistance and hostage negotiations has been sent to assist Nigeria in the search. Over 90 military personnel as well as an unmanned Aerial Vehicle have also been sent to help in the search. In June 2017, two rescued Chibok girls appeared in a photo with Donald Trump in The White House.
Currently, one hundred and thirteen girls are still unaccounted for. It is feared that they could have crossed the border and are now scattered in various countries. The militia on the other hand continue to wreak havoc. On new year’s eve, they attacked and killed 25 loggers.