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 non-violent Islamist splinter group
  • Launched uprising in 2009
  • Has killed 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 Gives Malaysia Questionable Upgrade in Human Trafficking Ranks

Malaysia’s upgrade seen as removing barrier to country’s participation in the US-led 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership More

Turkey, US Try to Establish Buffer Despite Differences

Coalition airstrikes in proposed zone would aim to drive out Islamic extremists, allowing targeted area to come under sway of anti-Assad rebels More

Video US: Millions Exploited by Vast Fortunes of Human Trafficking

State Department's annual report calls exploitation 'modern slavery,' brutalizing girls, women into prostitution and forcing men, women and children into low-wage jobs across the globe More

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

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Wini
X
July 28, 2015 12:21 AM
The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Iran Nuclear Pact Wins Few New US Congressional Backers

Later this week, President Barack Obama returns from a trip to Africa to confront a U.S. Congress roiled by the nuclear accord with Iran, an agreement that has received the blessing of the U.N. Security Council. Days of intensive lobbying and testimony by top administration officials have won few new congressional supporters of the pact. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Obama Encourages Kenya to Fix Cultures of Corruption, Discrimination

President Barack Obama bid farewell to Kenya Sunday with a major speech at as stadium outside the capital Nairobi where he called on Kenyans to change the cultures of corruption and discrimination that can hold society back. VOA East Africa Correspondent Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video California Towns Welcome Special Olympics Athletes

Cities and towns in Southern California are greeting thousands of athletes who are arriving for Special Olympics, a competition for people with intellectual disabilities. The games will run from July 25th through August 2nd. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, where athletes from Namibia, Singapore and Tanzania got a rousing welcome from local residents.
Video

Video Critics of Japan Defense Policy Focus on Okinawa

In Okinawa, many locals have long complained that Tokyo places an unfair burden on the tiny island by locating most of Japan's U.S. military bases there. As Japan's government moves toward strengthening and expanding the country's defense policies, opponents of those plans are joining local protesters in Okinawa, voicing concern about where the country is headed. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Okinawa.
Video

Video IS Uses Chemical Weapons in Syrian Attack

Islamic State militants have added a new weapon in their arsenal of fear: chemical weapons. VOA Kurdish service reporter Zana Omer was on the scene within hours of a recent attack in Hasakah, Syria, and has details of the subsequent investigation, in this report narrated by Miguel Amaya.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.
Video

Video Hoverbike Flying Toward Reality

Another long-standing dream of many technological inventors is quickly approaching reality: U.S.- and British-based firms are cooperating in the development of an individual flying platform they call a hoverbike. They say it may revolutionize the concept of flying, including in the U.S. military. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video As Japan Expands Defense Role, Protests Follow

The Japanese government is moving forward with a controversial security bill that would authorize the military to fight abroad for the first time since World War II. Leaders say it is critical to defend against rising threats from China and North Korea. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Japan on the big changes ahead, and the opposition they are drawing.
Video

Video Replacing Poppies with Coffee in Myanmar

The remote mountains of Myanmar’s Shan state are home to the second-largest opium-producing region in the world. After a drop during the 2000s, production surged in the past eight years to feed an increasing demand for heroin in China. But farmers are now making less on the crop, and the U.N. is hoping many will make the switch to growing coffee. Daniel de Carteret reports for VOA from Taunggyi.

VOA Blogs