“If these girls had been the daughters of some powerful leader would they have lost all this time?”
– Cardinal Onaiyekan
Agenzia Fides reports from Abuja, Nigeria (8 May 2017), the reaction of Cardinal John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan, following the release of 82 more of the abducted Chibok schoolgirls who were taken by Boko Haram on 14 April 2014. While thanking God for their release and reunion with their families he also commented: “I wonder why they had to wait three years for this to happen?”
Cardinal Onaiyekan also stated:
“In all these years I was among those who insistently asked the government to do everything possible to free the girls. The government replied that it could not negotiate for their release with terrorists, [including] exchanging them with some Boko Haram prisoners. But that is what eventually happened. For their release some Boko Haram leaders were released and an important figure was paid. Why did this not happen before, saving three years of suffering for these girls and their families? Three years of anguish that could be have been avoided.”
“If these girls had been the daughters of some powerful leader,” Cardinal Onaiyekan asked, “would they have lost all this time?”
To date a total of 163 girls have returned from captivity from the original 276 abducted from their school. Including the girls released on 6 May 2017, this number includes 57 who escaped shortly after their abduction and a further three who were found or rescued. In October 2016, 21 girls were released following negotiations conducted by the International Red Cross and diplomats of the Swiss Government. There are still 113 girls in captivity. Cardinal Onaiyekan raised concerns over their wellbeing:
“We also forget that there are still more than 100 girls whose fate we know nothing about. Some of them probably died during fights, illness or childbirth. At least let families know the fate of these poor girls. I invite everyone to pray for their release.”
Amongst the girls released is one with an amputated leg. The cause of the amputation has not yet been released.
You may access the Agenzia Fides article by clicking here.
A 2nd Agenzia Fides article also reveals that since 2014 Boko Haram attacks have affected mainly children, including children used for suicide attacks.
Reporting the first study carried out by the United Nations Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict (2013-2016), Agenzia Fides highlights that “minors continue to suffer cruelties at the hands of Boko Haram in northeastern Nigeria.”
The UN report states that in three years:
- 4,000+ children lost their lives
- 1,650 were recruited
- Suicide attacks as the second cause of death among the young
- 1500 schools have been destroyed by Boko Haram since 2014
- 1280 victims were students and professors
- At least 4000 children have been abused, forced to marry or convert to Islam since 2014.
Based on testimonies of child operatives freed from Boko Haram, the report also reveals that most children were seized or enlisted for economic reasons or because of family pressure.
You may read the 2nd Agenzia Fides article by clicking here.
Church in Chains has an article, based on information sourced from Al Jazeera, CNN, Daily Post, Daily Trust and the Guardian, which also contains the names of all the young women released. You may access their article by clicking here.