It’s been seven years since over 200 girls were taken from a school in Chibok by Boko Haram. Just over half of the girls have been freed or rescued, or escaped, leaving 111 still in captivity. Meanwhile, insecurity continues to affect large swathes of northern Nigeria – not just because of militant groups but also so-called bandits. Your prayers for the Chibok girls and their families, and Christians across Nigeria, remain desperately needed.
Seven years ago over 200 girls were abducted from their school in Chibok; 111 remain missing
It was around 11pm at Chibok Girls State Secondary School, where 275 girls had gathered for their exams, when Boko Haram militants arrived, pretending to be government security officials who had come to protect them. They coaxed the girls from their dorms onto trucks and headed for the Sambisa Forest. Before, during and shortly after the attack, 47 of the girls managed to escape. It was more than two years before more girls made it to freedom.
Today, seven years on from the incident on 14 April 2014, 111 girls remain unaccounted for. For the families of each girl, it’s been seven years of agonising waiting and uncertainty.
Precious little is known about the whereabouts or experiences of the girls still in captivity. It is also unclear whether there are any real efforts to negotiate a release, much less progress in securing their freedom – all to the exasperation of families waiting for any kind of news.
"Day and night, I keep praying and hoping that my daughter would come back home" Parent
“It is so unfortunate that the government, who is supposed to take care of all its citizens, have neglected our daughters in the hands of the Boko Haram,” Yakubu Nkeki Maina, chairman of the parents’ association of the Chibok Kidnapped Girls, tells Open Doors.
“There is no justification as to why our daughters would not be rescued from the hands of the kidnappers for seven years now. It’s quite disturbing that we have cried and asked the government to come to our rescue, but our cry has fallen on deaf ears.”
For the parents, it’s an endless nightmare. “These seven years have been like 100 years to me,” Yana Gana, one of the parents, shares with Open Doors. “Day and night, I keep praying and hoping that my daughter would come back home. If my daughter is dead, I want to know, so that I can mourn and find peace in my heart. The suspense is too much. This issue has left me with high blood pressure which I never had before.”
As uncertainty and sorrow persists in Chibok and the surrounding region, so does insecurity. Boko Haram still carries out attacks in the area.
On Christmas Eve, the group attacked Chibok and other nearby communities. In one location, they surrounded youths who were rehearsing for a Christmas service the next morning. They killed eight people, set the church on fire, and took the pastor and a three-year-old boy away with them. Later that day, the body of the pastor was recovered. The boy remains missing.
While the Chibok kidnapping was Nigeria’s most famous – garnering worldwide attention – it has certainly not been its only.
Nigeria has one of the world’s highest rates of kidnap-for-ransom cases, explains Quarts Africa. In their effort to establish a caliphate in the Lake Chad Basin and beyond, Boko Haram has snatched thousands of girls, women, boys and men from their homes across northeastern Nigeria, northern Cameroon and southern areas of Niger and Chad.
Meanwhile, there is growing pressure on the government to address the increase in kidnapping in other areas of northern Nigeria by so-called bandits. While the motivation is clearly financial, observers warn at least some of the kidnappers may have links to Boko Haram.
Of the Chibok girls already released, 39 attend school at the American University of Nigeria (in Adamawa State), 17 are studying in the USA, two have graduated, and one has become a pilot. Ten are getting married in April.
"Some of the girls are still going through serious trauma and have refused to go to school" Yakubu Nkeki Maina
It’s encouraging news, but other released girls continue to be severely haunted by their experiences of captivity. They need your prayers. “Some of the girls are still going through serious trauma and have refused to go to school,” Yakubu Nkeki Maina explains.
Thanks to your support, Open Doors continues to call on the international community to urge Nigerian President Muhammada Buhari to continue efforts to liberate the hostages held by Boko Haram. There is also a push to create a position within the government for the sole purpose of maintaining an active family liaison and an open and accessible channel of communication with the traumatised parents of the hostages.
Alongside this, your prayers and support have been instrumental in the provision of physical aid and trauma care for survivors of violence in Nigeria, healing believers and giving them a platform to look forward with hope. Over the years, you’ve walked closely with several Boko Haram kidnap survivors, including Hannatu and Amina, both of whom have been given the necessary support to See.Change. in their lives.
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