By Carl Hill
With the one-year anniversary of the abduction of Nigeria’s Chibok girls, many are wondering, “Where are the girls now?” This is a great question and one for which there is no definitive answer at this time.
Last April 14, the Islamist insurgent group Boko Haram kidnapped 276 girls from their secondary boarding school in the remote village of Chibok. This evil work made international news. The cry of outrage went out far and wide, “Bring back our girls!”
Most people, including political figures, entertainers, and the media were up in arms that innocent school girls were carried off in the dead of night, reportedly to serve as “wives” and concubines (an Old Testament word for a kept woman) to these blood-thirsty extremists of northeast Nigeria.
Unfortunately, the worldwide attention died down quickly as the media focus shifted to other spectacular stories like the ISIS barbarity in Syria and Iraq, and the murderous rampage of religious extremists in Paris at the Charlie Hebdo headquarters. For a year now there has been little or no news about the fate of the Chibok girls.
Some of the only reports have come from the 57 girls that have managed to escape from the clutches of Boko Haram. Even these stories are mainly about how these lucky ones were able to slip away from their captors.
There is little accurate information available as to where the girls have been held and what they have been forced to endure while in the clutches of these men. One can only guess at the conditions and degrading activities these young girls had to face.
Recently the Nigerian military along with soldiers from Cameroon, Chad, and Niger, have been making military progress against the insurgents, and many areas once held by Boko Haram have been regained. Many of the Boko Haram have been killed, captured, or driven off in the last six weeks that led up to Nigeria’s presidential elections. Observers have seen this concerted push by the military as the last-ditch effort of President Goodluck Jonathan to retain his office. Perhaps it was too little, too late. Jonathan lost last month’s election, leaving the security of the northeast, the continued existence of Boko Haram, and the fate and whereabouts of most of the Chibok girls unknown.
A member of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) who has had a leading role in aiding Chibok girls who escaped, said in a telephone interview: “We feel depressed. No one is doing anything to relieve the anxiety felt by the parents of these girls. All we can do is continue to pray for them. Rumors are many here in Nigeria. Have the girls been killed? It could be a reality but not one we want to face just yet. We will hold out hope until there is nothing to hold on to. Until that time we will pray for a miracle.”
[Author’s note: It was reported in Newsline on March 31, 2015, that an escaped Chibok girl named Hauwa did not know if her parents were alive or dead. EYN members have spoken to her parents and they are alive and well.]
-- Carl Hill is co-director of the Nigeria Crisis Response of the Church of the Brethren, along with his wife, Roxane Hill. For more information about the Nigeria Crisis Response, a cooperative effort with Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria, go to www.brethren.org/nigeriacrisis .