What's happened and who are Boko Haram?
As the Boko Haram leader releases a terrifying video threatening to sell the abducted Nigerian schoolgirls, we round up all the information you need to know about the kidnappings.
What exactly has happened?
On 14 April, 273 schoolgirls, ages ages 16 to 18, were kidnapped in the middle of the night by gunman from the Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok, Nigeria. About 40 girls managed to escaped by jumping out of the vehicles that drove them away, but around 230 girls are still missing.
Who abducted them?
Terrorist organization Boko Haram has taken responsibilty for the kidnappings. The leader, Abubakar Shekau, appears in a video, obtained by the AFP news agency, threatening to ‘sell’ the girls. ‘I abducted your girls. I will sell them in the market, by Allah. We are holding people [as] slaves. God instructed me to sell them, they are his properties and I will carry out his instructions.’
Who are Boko Haram?
Boko Haram is a Nigerian militant Islamist group and the name translates as ‘Western education is forbidden.’ So they basically hate everything to do with Western society and don’t allow people to do things like vote in elections, wear shirts and trousers or receive a secular education. It was founded in 2002 and since then the group has staged massacres, shootings and bomb attacks. They often target students and teachers.
What is the #BringBackOurGirls campaign?
The Twitter campaign is gaining momentum and is helping to draw attention to the kidnapped schoolgirls. Celebrities and influential figures, like Hillary Clinton, Kerry Washington, Chris Brown, Mary J. Blige, Mia Farrow and Sophia Bush, have got involved. Clinton wrote on Twitter: ‘Access to education is a basic right & an unconscionable reason to target innocent girls. We must stand up to terrorism. #BringBackOurGirls.’ Amy Poehler is using her Smart Girls organization to host a live chat on Tuesday about the abduction of the students and Malala Yousafzai, the 16-year-old women and children’s rights activist from Pakistan, has also tweeted her support.
Why is the Nigerian government being criticised so much?
It’s being said that the Nigerian leaders have done next to nothing to help find the kidnapped schoolgirls and is under growing pressure to act. Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan kept very quiet after the abductions and has only just spoken about it, after three weeks, saying: ‘We will surely get them out.’
What is being done to find the girls?
The US has called the abductions an ‘outrage’ and say it ‘has been in regular touch with the Nigerian government about what we might do to help support its efforts to find and free these young women.’ Over on our side of the pond, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said, rather vaguely, that the UK had offered ‘practical help’ to the Nigerian authorities. Nigeria’s president has now ordered an investigation into the, so far, failed efforts to rescue the girls.
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The search and agonizing wait for the families continues. There have been reports that some of the girls have been forced to marry the men who kidnapped them and it’s said that others could have been taken across the borders into Cameroon and Chad.