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10 Years after kidnapping, 90 Chibok girls remain missing

Parents of kidnapped Chibok girls

AUDU MARTE | AFP

John Burger - published on 04/13/24

Abduction by Boko Haram led to the #BringBackOurGirls campaign, but today, kidnappings in Nigeria are so common they're hardly newsworthy.

Kidnapping is so common in Nigeria that even a large abduction is not major world news anymore. 

Such was the case when dozens of children living in displaced persons’ camps in Nigeria’s northwest were kidnapped in early March. 

Fortunately, security forces managed to free the 137 kids two weeks later.

But about 90 of the 276 Chibok school girls who were captured in 2014 – at a time when such an abduction created a major, worldwide campaign – are still missing. 

The anniversary of that kidnapping is this Sunday. 

On the night of April 14, 2014, militants of Nigeria’s Boko Haram Islamist group arrived at a boarding school – the Government Girls Secondary School – in the town of Chibok, a Christian enclave in the northeast state of Borno. Most of the girls, aged 16-19, were Christian.

Fifty-seven of the students escaped immediately by jumping from the trucks on which they were being transported. The Nigerian Armed Forces have rescued others on various occasions. In 2016 and 2017, for example, negotiations led to the highly publicized liberation of around 100 of the captives.

Initially, a Twitter hashtag campaign, #BringBackOurGirls, caught the world’s attention, drawing support from people like former First Lady Michelle Obama and actor Sylvester Stallone. 

Rebuilding lives

Today, even those who have been freed are struggling to move on with their lives.

“Abductees who have returned home have struggled to resume their interrupted lives. Some are raising children fathered by their captors,” Reuters reported

“Dozens freed only in the past few years are living inside a military-run rehabilitation camp with surrendered Boko Haram fighters they married in the bush, according to the Murtala Muhammed Foundation, a charity that advocates for them. With them are more than 30 children,” the wire service said this week.

Dauda Yama, whose daughter is inside the camp, told Reuters that the girls were “brainwashed.”

“Their psychological thinking and mindset were changed to favor their abductors,” Yama said.

Sadly, as many as a third of the 90 girls still missing might have died in captivity, according to the Murtala Muhammed Foundation, which bases that estimate on the accounts of former abductees. 

“Some died of childbirth, some of starvation or snakebite, others in government air strikes” against Boko Haram, foundation head Aisha Muhammed-Oyebode told Reuters.

Some liberated captives are attending universities in the United States and other countries, however. 

Tags:
AfricaIslamist MilitantsNigeria
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