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

    Syrian Torture Victim Recounts Horrors

    'You make them think you have surrendered' says Jalal Nofal, a doctor who was jailed and survived repeated interrogations in Syria

    Mandela’s Millions Paid to Heirs, But Who Gets His Country Home?

    Saga around $3 million estate of country's first democratic president is far from over as Winnie Mandela’s fight for home overshadows payouts

    Guess Which Beach is 'Best in the US'?

    Hawaii’s Hanauma Bay tops an annual "top 10" list compiled by a coastal scientist, also known as Doctor Beach

    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.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora