11 parents of Nigeria’s abducted girls die

2014-07-22 13:16

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Lagos – About a dozen parents of the more than 200 kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls will never see their daughters again.

Since the mass abduction of the schoolgirls by Islamic extremists three months ago, at least 11 of their parents have died, residents report. Their hometown, Chibok, is under siege from the militants.

The bodies of seven fathers of kidnapped girls were among 51 corpses brought to Chibok hospital after an attack on the nearby village of Kautakari this month, said a health worker who insisted on anonymity for fear of reprisals by the extremists.

At least four more parents have died of heart failure, high blood pressure and other illnesses that the community blames on trauma due to the mass abduction 100 days ago, said community leader Pogu Bitrus, who provided their names.

“One father of two of the girls kidnapped just went into a kind of coma and kept repeating the names of his daughters, until life left him,” said Bitrus.

Meanwhile, The Associated Press reported today that more danger is on the horizon for the troubled city.

Frequent attacks on the roads, which are studded with burned out vehicles, have left Chibok cut off from the rest of the country.

Commercial flights no longer go into the troubled area and the government has halted charter flights.

Boko Haram is closing in on Chibok, attacking villages ever closer to the town. Villagers who survive the assaults are swarming into the town, swelling its population and straining resources. A food crisis looms, along with shortages of money and fuel, said community leader Bitrus.

On the bright side, some of the 57 young women who managed to escape in the first few days are recovering, said a health worker, who insisted on anonymity because he feared reprisals from Boko Haram.

Girls who had first refused to discuss their experience are now talking about it and taking part in therapeutic singing and drawing. A few drew homes, some painted flowers. One young woman drew a picture of a soldier with a gun.

Girls who said they would never go back to school are now thinking about how to continue their education, he said.

Counselling is being offered to families of those abducted and to some of the students who managed to escape, said the health worker. He is among 36 newly trained in grief and rape counselling under a programme funded by USAID.

All the escapees remain deeply concerned about their schoolmates who did not get away.

A presidential committee investigating the kidnappings said 219 girls still are missing. But the community says the number of girls missing is higher. Some parents refused to give the committee their daughters’ names, fearing the stigma involved.

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