Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 20 August 2014

Boko Haram: Kidnapped girls need our help

Patrick Corrigan, Amnesty International
Patrick Corrigan, Amnesty International

On April 14, more than 200 girls, most aged 16-18, were abducted from their school in Chibok, north-eastern Nigeria. More schoolgirls have been kidnapped since.

Islamist armed group Boko Haram claimed responsibility. It aims to overthrow the government by force to make Nigeria an Islamic state.

Since July 2009 Boko Haram has carried out a brutal campaign of bombings and gun attacks across Nigeria – including attacks on churches, police stations, schools, newspaper offices and the UN.

It has singled out school pupils for lethal attacks.

Teachers have been shot dead as they taught their classes, scores of children killed as they slept.

In the last two years more than 60 schools in north Nigeria have been forced to close after attacks by armed groups. Another 50 have been burnt or seriously damaged.

In September last year Boko Haram members shot dead 50 university students as they slept. The abduction of the girls in Chibok follows a pattern.

Many schools across north-east Nigeria have closed as a result. Parents have withdrawn their children from schools, fearing for their safety.

Deaths from violent attacks in Nigeria have risen sharply in recent months. More than 1,500 people have been killed during the first three months of this year alone.

Yet this conflict has remained largely ignored. Until now.

Public concern across the world at the fate of the kidnapped girls has been mobilised on social media via the #BringBackOurGirls hashtag.

Disgust at Boko Haram was matched with outrage at the Nigerian Government's failure to respond.

The US, UK and France have dispatched teams of experts to Nigeria to help recover the girls. But the threat to their lives and to other schoolchildren remains.

Join the call on the Nigerian Government to do more to rescue the girls and protect other children and their right to education.

You can take action at www.amnesty.org.uk/nigeria.

  • Patrick Corrigan is Northern Ireland director of Amnesty International

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