Pakistani Yousafzai calls on Nigeria and international community to redouble efforts
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If hope is fading for recovery of the 219 Nigerian school girls abducted a year ago by Boko Haram, one young woman at least is not giving in to despair.
Nobel Peace Laureate Malala Yousafzai, who was shot in the head by Muslim extremists in her native Pakistan who believe girls should not be allowed in school, said in an open letter for the first anniversary of the Chibok school abduction, that she believes the missing girls will one day be reunited with their parents.
"Today and every day, we call on the Nigerian authorities and the international community to do more to bring you home," she wrote in the letter. "We will not rest until you have been reunited with your families."
Like you, I was a target of militants who did not want girls to go to school. Gunmen shot me and two of my friends on a school bus. All three of us survived and are back in school. Now we speak out on behalf of all girls about the right to get a proper education. Our campaign will continue until you and all girls and boys around the world are able to access a free, safe and quality secondary education.
She said that when she turned 17 last July, she spent her birthday in Nigeria with some of the missing girls’ parents and five of their classmates who escaped the kidnapping. After that meeting, she met with Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan and urged him to work harder to recover the missing girls.
"In my opinion, Nigerian leaders and the international community have not done enough to help you, Malala said. "They must do much more to help secure your release. I am among many people pressuring them to make sure you are freed."
There are reasons for hope and optimism. Nigerian forces are re-gaining territory and protecting more schools. Nigeria’s newly-elected president, Muhammadu Buhari, has vowed to make securing your freedom a top priority and promised his government will not tolerate violence against women and girls.
According to the Associated Press, Nigerian President-elect Muhammadu Buhari said he must be honest about the prospects of getting the missing girls back to their families.
"We do not know if the Chibok girls can be rescued. Their whereabouts remain unknown," Buhari said in a statement. "As much as I wish to, I cannot promise that we can find them."