May 5, 2014

Three weeks after mass abduction 276 Nigerian schoolgirls still missing

Three weeks after mass abduction 276 Nigerian schoolgirls still missing. DEBORAH Sanya thought she was going to die.

In the pre-dawn hours of April 15, men dressed in Nigerian military uniforms showed up at Deborah’s school, in a village called Chibok, and claimed they were there to help.

“There were many, many of them,” she tells the New Yorker . “They said, ‘Don’t worry. Nothing will happen to you.”

That facade was short-lived. As they herded the school’s students into trucks and onto motorbikes, the men started shouting “Allahu Akbar” and shooting their guns into the air. Then they set the building on fire.

“I thought it was the end of my life,” Deborah says.
The militants were from an Islamic terrorist group called Boko Haram. They kidnapped more than 300 girls that morning, 276 of whom are still missing.

Deborah and her classmates were taken to the terrorists’ camp, where they were forced to cook, the New Yorker says.

Two hours later, the 18-year-old took two of her friends aside and told them to run.
The trio sprinted into the trees nearby, ignoring the camp’s guards, who shouted at them to stop. Hours later, they reached the relative safety of a nearby village. Altogether, fifty other girls managed to escape their captors, but they left hundreds behind.

Boko Haram is reportedly demanding a ransom for the girls’ release, and some of the victims are being sold into marriage.

“Some of them have been married off to insurgents. A medieval kind of slavery. You go and capture women and then sell them off,” said Pogu Bitrus, a community elder in Chibok.

As if the situation weren’t bad enough, the Nigerian government’s response to the crisis has been farcical.

A day after the raid, the nation’s military claimed it had rescued most of the girls, when in fact it had rescued no one at all.

Last week, hundreds of protesters massed outside Nigeria’s National Assembly to voice their outrage at the government’s inaction.

“We want our girls to come home alive, not in body bags,” said one of the activists, Mercy Asu Abang.

“The leaders of both houses said they will do all in their power, but we are saying two weeks already have passed, we want action now.”

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan is insisting his government will secure the girls’ release.

“We promise that anywhere the girls are, we will surely get them out,” Jonathan said in a live radio-television media chat this weekend.

“This is a trying time for this country ... it is painful,” he said, pleading for the cooperation of parents, guardians and the local communities.
Several foreign governments, including Britain and the United States, have also promised to help.“The kidnapping of hundreds of children by Boko Haram is an unconscionable crime and we will do everything possible to support the Nigerian government to return these young women to their homes and to hold the perpetrators to justice,” US Secretary of State John Kerry said in a speech on Sunday.

But back in Chibok, that help seems extremely distant.

In the days immediately after the abduction, a group of parents travelled into the forest to search for their missing daughters. They were met by local villagers, who warned the terrorists were too well armed and convinced them to turn back.

Deborah’s father Ishaya Sanya says he feels guilty that his daughter escaped, while so many other girls didn’t.

“Every house in Chibok has been affected by the kidnapping,” he tells the New Yorker . “We don’t know where they are up until now, and we have not heard anything from the government.”