Kidnappings in Nigeria
Imagine being at a boarding school, away from your family and home and possibly out of the country, living through those awkward high school years we’ve all endured. Your biggest worries probably include the test you have next week, the crush you have on that guy or girl sitting next to you, or just the fact that you’re behind on your laundry. Now imagine that a terrorist group has been kidnapping and killing students from your school and the surrounding area. It makes all the other worries seem very miniscule.
This is what’s happening in Chibok, Nigeria. The most infamous event occurred in April 2014 when the terrorist group Boko Haram kidnapped 276 girls from a government secondary boarding school. The news went international and the world showed its support with the rally cry “bring back our girls.” Boko Haram is an Islamic terrorist group that fights against Western education and claims that the Nigerian government has been interfering with traditional Islamic education. Since 2010, they’ve been attacking schools, killing hundreds of students and abducting children for various reasons, including to turn the children into soldiers for their cause. According to some reports, over 20,000 people have been killed and almost 2 million have been driven from their homes.
The most recent large scale incident occurred Monday, February 19. The small town of Dapchi in northeastern Nigeria was attacked and scores of female students were abducted from the local school. Reports are still coming in as there’s a lot of confusion. The estimated number of abducted girls ranges from 50 to 105. Boko Haram is using these girls as leverage to get some of their commanders out of prison.
The Nigerian government claims it’s doing everything possible to recover the missing girls. President Muhammadu Buhari has been tweeting his support for the victims of the most recent attack, although in Nigeria, tweeting isn’t the most effective way of reaching out to the citizens. Around 57 girls from the initial kidnapping in 2014 have either been released, rescued or escaped. Several have spoken in front of international humanitarian organizations such as Amnesty International to raise awareness about the horrors that the remaining students are experiencing. There’s been concern about how the government is handling the situation since the Dapchi attack occurred without government resistance and the information about it came from a variety of outside sources, not the government itself. The sharing of information seems to be a recurring issue in the attempt to respond effectively to the Boko Haram.
With attention focused on Nigeria once again, hopefully the government will be able to receive sufficient assistance from outside the country to muster a stronger stance against the Boko Haram. The Nigerian people are crying out for their children to be returned to them and for their government to produce more results in this fight.
Wesley Rodriguez-Diep is a sophomore studying international relations.