A Chibok schoolgirl who escaped from Boko Haram militants in Nigeria urged the international community to not forget her classmates still in captivity.
Next month will mark three years since Islamic militant group Boko Haram kidnapped 276 girls from a boarding school in the primarily Christian town of Chibok in northeast Nigeria. Some of the girls have managed to escape since then, and 21 of them were released in October. But the fate of almost 200 others remains unknown.
The plight of the Chibok schoolgirls prompted a global movement and social media campaign using the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls, which has been backed by international leaders such as former U.S. first lady Michelle Obama and former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
One of the schoolgirls who was able to escape from the militants recently spoke at an education conference in Dubai. Using the pseudonym Sa’a to protect her identity, the girl said the “world has to do something” to rescue the others, according to BBC News.
“These girls are human beings, not something that we can forget about,” Sa’a reportedly told the Global Education and Skills Forum. “How would you feel if your daughter or wife was missing? Not one day or two, but three years. It’s very painful.”
Sa’a recalled the horrific moment when Boko Haram descended on her school in 2014 between the night of April 14 and the early morning hours of April 15. The militants torched classrooms, burned school books and herded hundreds of students at gunpoint into waiting trucks, she said.
Sa’a and a friend jumped off the back of the truck as it sped off into the forest. They hid overnight and found their way back to safety with the help of a shepherd, she said.
“I thought I was going to die that night,” Sa’a reportedly told the Global Education and Skills Forum.
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has made the war against Boko Haram a top priority since his election in March 2015 and it was a cornerstone of his campaign. Although Buhari’s administration has claimed significant progress against the group, which aims to overthrow the federal government and establish an Islamic state in West Africa, the families of the missing schoolgirls have grown frustrated as months have passed without any apparent efforts for their rescue.
Speaking at the education conference in Dubai, Sa’a said some of the parents of the missing girls had died and others were traumatized by the long wait. She expressed disappointment that the majority of her classmates remained in captivity, recalling their plans for their careers and lives, according to BBC News.
“I remember those girls, but their dreams are now no more,” Sa’a reportedly said.
(H/T BBC News)
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