Africa

Chibok: four years later, hundred high school girls in Boko Haram custody

It has been four years since 276 girls from Chibok, a city in the far north-east of the country Nigeria, were kidnapped by members of Boko Haram.

The country commemorates this sad anniversary on Saturday, April 14, while nearly a hundred high school girls are still held captive by the Islamist group.

The drama of Dapchi last February reminded us that the threat of kidnappings still hangs over the schoolchildren of the Northeast.

It was four years ago. In the middle of the night, Boko Haram members stormed the Chibok high school dormitory, abducting 276 girls.

Later, 57 managed to escape, 107 were found, rescued or exchanged with their captors, but 112 are still captive and their fate remains a mystery.

Families blame government for passivity

The last proof of life goes back to early January. Several of them appeared in a video broadcast by Boko Haram where they said they did not want to leave the “caliphate”. Authorities say they are working for their release.

In his Easter speech, the head of state Muhammadu Buhari said he was “very optimistic”. He assured that all girls still captive would soon be “unconditionally returned to their families”.

Not convincing Sesugh Akume, the spokesman for the organization Bring Back Our Girls: “The government has not done enough, it’s disappointing, especially since parents are kept in limbo. It is the most distressing! We do not expect the government to say everything to the public, but it must keep parents informed as well as their communities, that they know the government is working on it, that they know what it is doing.”

A birthday with a bitter taste

The families deplore the total absence of information on the progress of the file. Four years after the mass kidnapping, young girls are no longer in the news, no longer arouse passionate debates. The kidnapping of 111 girls in Dapchi and their release a month later in mid-March, however, proved that schoolchildren remained a major target of Islamists.

For the movement, this anniversary has a bitter taste. “We were hoping the Chibock girls would be back before the fourth anniversary of their kidnapping, but we’re still waiting! Most of them are still missing. It’s a very sad day. Our message remains: “bring back our girls!””

To continue the fight, the movement organizes this Saturday, debates and marches in the cities of Yola, Lagos and Abuja.

According to a UNICEF report, more than 1,000 children in total have been abducted since 2013 by Boko Haram.

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