The statement by Boko Haram admitting responsibility for abducting over 200 Nigerian schoolgirls is a belated admission of responsibility for a heinous crime and takes the desperate campaign to rescue the girls to a new level.
We now know that the girls, who are prisoners of the terrorists, are seen as sex slaves to be sold off in child marriage against their will. And we now know that the fears of their parents – that they could be trafficked and dispersed across Africa — are real.
Last week I called on the UK Government to offer the Nigerian government the satellite or air surveillance needed to locate the girls in the remote forests of the Borno State. This request, which is also with the US Government, whose Secretary of State John Kerry has already generously offered all possible assistance, needs urgent action if we are to prevent the girls being sent into other countries never to be seen again.
As part of my work as UN Special Envoy for Global Education, I am traveling to Nigeria to offer the Nigerian Government all the backing that the international community can give as they take on this terrorist group whose name literally means ‘Western education is forbidden’ and who have already claimed the lives of 4,000 in four years. Like millions around the world, I sympathize with the parents whose two-week-long nightmare continues unabated.
Their banner ‘Bring Back our Daughters’ challenges all of us to do all we can to help. Girls should be able to go to school without being in fear of their lives. It is up to us to help make this basic demand a reality once again for Nigeria’s missing girls.
Sign the “Bring Back Our Girls” petition to show your support for the safe return of the missing girls and protection of education for all Nigerian children.