Kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls have nowhere to go

2015-04-14 19:38
A screengrab taken from a video released by Nigerian Islamist extremist group Boko Haram obtained by AFP shows girls wearing the full-length hijab. (AFP)

A screengrab taken from a video released by Nigerian Islamist extremist group Boko Haram obtained by AFP shows girls wearing the full-length hijab. (AFP)

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Lagos - For the last 12 months, campaigners have been calling for the immediate release of 219 Nigerian schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram militants.

But Ayuba Alamson-Chibok, a 39-year-old schoolteacher from the girls' home town in northeastern Borno state, says they would face a perilous situation if they gained their freedom anytime soon.

"I just left Chibok this morning. I spent three weeks there, especially to see a lot of people and their situation," said Alamson-Chibok, whose two cousins are among the captives.

"People are struggling because promises have not been fulfilled. Promises by the Nigerian army and by the president himself," he told AFP by phone from Biu, also in Borno state.

"We are really in a sad moment [and] this is the moment these parents need help."

As the world's attention again falls on the girls and their plight, Alamson-Chibok said it was essential to raise awareness about the dire conditions in Chibok.

A promise from outgoing President Goodluck Jonathan's administration to rebuild the targeted Government Girls Secondary School has so far led nowhere.

"The school is guarded by soldiers but the parents are waiting for it to be rebuilt," he said.

Jonathan lost last month's presidential election to Muhammadu Buhari, who takes office on May 29.

Buhari has vowed to do better than the outgoing president in combatting Boko Haram but cautioned he could not make promises on the safe return of the hostages.

Pray with them

Alamson-Chibok stressed one area where Buhari, and others, can make an immediate difference.

"Those people [living in the town] really, really need help. I pray with them. I sympathise with them," he said.

He said that in such a small community, the kidnappings affected almost every family and that "there is no single day when those girls won't be discussed".

But while trying to manage their grief, most families are in effect trapped in a town with terrible road access and no medical doctor, let alone a mental health expert to deal with the trauma both of separation and of kidnapping.

There is also an acute shortage of drinking water, with most people relying on a single well built by the Borno state government.

"Water is the greatest need... drinking water is very, very expensive at this very period," he said.

Alamson-Chibok said no effort should be spared to secure the girl's release but attention needed to be given to the broader issues facing the town, its residents and others like it.

Boko Haram fighters briefly seized Chibok in November last year but it was liberated days later by the military and civilian vigilantes.

With major infrastructure problems, he said Buhari must be open to foreign assistance if the federal budget does not allow for a massive assistance package for Chibok.

"I pray for him to use any kind of wisdom that will have him liaise with any country that could be able to assist."

Read more on:    goodluck jonathan  |  nigeria  |  west africa  |  nigeria kidnappings

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