News / Africa

    Malala Pledges to Help Free Kidnapped Nigerian Girls

    VOA News

    Pakistani education activist Malala Yousafzai is celebrating her 17th birthday in Nigeria on Monday with promises to work for the release of some 219 schoolgirls who have been held by Islamic extremists for three months. 

    Malala survived being shot in the head by the Taliban for campaigning for girls' education in 2012.

    On Sunday, she met parents of the more than 200 girls who were kidnapped by the militant group Boko Haram from a school in the northeastern village of Chibok in April.

    Boko Haram, inspired by the Taliban, say they are fighting to establish an Islamic state in religiously mixed Nigeria.

    The group, whose name means “Western education is sinful,” has killed thousands and abducted hundreds since launching an uprising in 2009.

    Meets with parents

    Some of the parents broke down in tears as Malala spoke at a hotel in the capital Abuja on Sunday.

    “I can see those girls as my sisters ... and I'm going to speak up for them until they are released,” said Malala, who was to meet President Goodluck Jonathan on Monday. Her 17th birthday was on Saturday.

    “My birthday wish this year is "Bring Back Our Girls' now and alive,” she said on Monday, using the social media slogan that has been picked up around the world to demand freedom for the girls.

    “I'm going to participate actively in the #Bring back our girls campaign, to make sure that they return safely and they continue their education," Malala said.

    On Monday, Malala appealed to the Nigerian government to dedicate more money to education, to drastically reduce the hundreds of thousands of children who are out of school in the country, not just in the northeast area that is under a state of emergency and where Boko Haram has targeted schools, killing hundreds of students.

    The girls' abduction drew unprecedented international attention to the war in Nigeria's northeast and the growing security risk that Boko Haram poses to Nigeria, Africa's leading energy producer.

    The White House posts a Twitter photo showing First Lady Michelle Obama holding a sign with hashtag #BringBackOurGirls, May 7, 2014.The White House posts a Twitter photo showing First Lady Michelle Obama holding a sign with hashtag #BringBackOurGirls, May 7, 2014.
    x
    The White House posts a Twitter photo showing First Lady Michelle Obama holding a sign with hashtag #BringBackOurGirls, May 7, 2014.
    The White House posts a Twitter photo showing First Lady Michelle Obama holding a sign with hashtag #BringBackOurGirls, May 7, 2014.

    A #BringBackOurGirls Twitter campaign supported by Michelle Obama and Angelina Jolie heaped pressure on authorities to act, and Jonathan pledged to save the girls, drawing promises of Western help to do so.

    Several weeks on, the hostages have not been freed and media interest has waned.

    Parents angry

    Around 200 Nigerians gathered in the Unity Fountain park in central Abuja on Sunday to call on authorities to explain what they are doing to get the girls out.

    “Nobody has told us anything about where the girls could be, what they are doing to try to rescue them. In three months, we've heard nothing,” said Haruna Fetima, one of the parents at the gathering. “We live in Chibok, and we haven't seen any soldiers or police in the area since the attack.”

    Jonathan has not met with any of the kidnapped girls' parents, nor with Nigerian activists who started the worldwide movement. He has drawn international condemnation for his government's failure to quickly rescue the students.

    In May, Jonathan canceled a planned trip to Chibok. And soldiers and police prevented activists from marching to his presidential village in Abuja, the capital, to give him written demands the same month.

    Boko Haram
     

    • Based in the northeastern city of Maiduguri
    • Self-proclaimed leader is Abubakar Shekau
    • Began in 2002 as a nonviolent Islamist splinter group
    • Launched uprising in 2009
    • Has killed tens of thousands since 2010
    • Boko Haram translates to "Western education is sinful"
    • Wants Nigeria to adopt strict Islamic law

    Boko Haram, now considered the main security threat to Nigeria, is growing bolder.

    Police said on Saturday they had uncovered a plot to bomb the Abuja transport network using suicide bombers and devices concealed in luggage at major bus stations.

    Group leader Abubakar Shekau also put out a new video last week in which he repeated his demands that the government release scores of detained insurgents in exchange for the girls' freedom.

    The government has so far refused.

    Some see Nigeria's local #BringBackOurGirls campaign as a rare, albeit small, piece of civil activism in a nation famous for its shoulder-shrugging indifference in the face of atrocities or bad governance.

    “The negative side of our resilience ... is that things that would compel other citizens to demand accountability, demand answers, wouldn't move the Nigerian,” said Oby Ezekwesili, a chartered accountant who has spearheaded the campaign to get the girls freed.

    “That has been broken. ... People are saying 'We can't leave 219 girls and just get on with our lives.' "

    Some information for this report provided by Reuters and AP.

    You May Like

    US-Russia Tensions Complicate Syria War

    With a shared enemy and opposing allies, Russia and the US are working to avoid confrontation

    Video Re-opening Old Wounds in Beirut's Bullet-riddled Yellow House

    Built in neo-Ottoman style in 1920s, it is set to be re-opened in Sept. as ‘memory museum’ - bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity

    Cambodian-Americans Lobby for Human Rights Resolution

    Resolution condemns all forms of political violence in Cambodia, urges Cambodian government to end human rights violations, calls for respect of press freedom

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: 1worldnow from: Earth
    July 19, 2014 8:10 PM
    Dear Sayyad, what about the Indian girls being raped and hanged? Oh, I'm sorry, I must be talking like an American. Wait a minute? I am an American!
    Malala is Pakistani, so that means you automatically despise her, no matter what she says or does. Yeah, I know Indian culture very well. That's right people, Indians and Pakistanis are truly worse with hatred than Israelis and Palestinians. With this moron's statement that Malala is talking like an American, that means Sayyad is totally against women expressing their views. Yeah, Sayyad, I do understand Indian culture, very very well. You would make that remark only to women in your country when they try to express their concerns for women's rights. Haha, didn't think I knew that, did you?
    This moron Sayyad wants to insult Malala, because she is a woman and Pakistani. They tried to murder her! You pathetic piece of Indian garbage! Guess you were disappointed that the bullet didn't get her just right. But we know that Indians, like Pakistanis, do not allow their women to express their concerns. Or they get shot in to head, or raped and hanged.
    Let me help you, Sayyad, to clear that garbage out of your head. Say it with me "What about all the children in the world who are suffering?" Not just Gaza!

    by: 1worldnow from: Earth
    July 15, 2014 4:18 AM
    Dear Beyonce, did you know that there are little girls in Nigeria that need to be rescued? You have the money and influence to help save these precious little girls. I agree that you are probably the finest African-American women ever, close tie with Halle Berry. Just wondering if you care, that's all. Sorry to have bothered you.

    by: 1worldnow from: Earth
    July 15, 2014 3:55 AM
    What is terrible in this forum is that there are a lot of Nigerians that post comments on issues all over this VOA site. Issues dealing with their little girls.......................NOTHING! Nothing but hate and discontent towards people that express concern. Why??? Come on, all you Nigerian commentators, where are you???

    by: Sayyad Mujahed from: India
    July 14, 2014 10:31 AM
    Dear Malala ,
    What about kids of Gaza.....
    You are talking as american

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora