The campaign’s effort seems to have declined; media coverage of the movement has waned considerably. Apparently, a year is long enough for international outrage to rise, fall and fade away. Yet, the kidnap of over 200 girls in Borno state, Nigeria last year by the Islamic jihadist group, Boko Haram, is still an open case. The Chibok schoolgirls were abducted on April 14, 2014. A recently freed Boko Haram captive, a 56-year-old woman, has claimed that the girls are being held in Gwoza town, Borno state.
On the ill-fated day, 276 girls, aged from 12 to 17, were seized from a boarding school in the remote town in northeastern Nigeria. The Boko Haram gunmen stormed the girls' school, forcing them from their dormitories onto trucks and driving them into the bush. However, fifty-seven girls managed to flee. In a video statement, the leader of the terrorist group, Abubakar Shekau, claimed responsibility for the mass abduction, vowing that he planned to sell the girls as slave brides.
The group has been terrorizing northeastern Nigeria—a predominantly Christian region—for almost five years with the goal of establishing an Islamic state regulated by strict Sharia law. They are ideologically opposed to Western culture, such as the education of girls, and thus organized the kidnapping.
A social media storm that was sparked by the US First Lady Michelle Obama, when she sent out a tweet of herself holding up a sign that read “#BringBackOurGirls”, attracted politicians, actors and other prominent public figures to join the battle against the act perpetuated by the extremists. This got the world talking and exercising efforts towards the salvation of the girls. Additionally, neighbouring countries Benin, Chad, Cameroon and Niger agreed to strengthen joint efforts to find the schoolgirls and defeat Boko Haram.
On the 26th of May, 2014, a slight glimmer of hope surfaced when Nigeria's highest ranking military officer, Chief of Defence Staff Alex Badeh, said that they had located the missing teenagers. Nigeria's former president Olusegun Obasanjo had also been in talks with Boko Haram to broker a deal to release the girls. But the Chief of Defense Staff however warned that a rescue operation would put their lives at risk.
In 2015, on their 300th day in captivity, Nobel peace laureate Malala Yousafzai called for global support to demand "urgent action" to release the girls and work even began to rebuild the kidnapped girls' school in Chibok. But as the days continue to go by, Nigeria's army chief admits that there is "no news for now" about the girls' fate, despite military successes in recapturing towns from the insurgents. International efforts to recover the girls have also failed, including several rounds of negotiations to exchange the girls for Boko Haram fighters held in Nigerian jails.
And now, a year on the Nigerian security forces continue to appear incompetent. The foreign dignitaries who had signed up to the social media campaigns haven’t done much more. The 24-hour news media and various celebrities seem to have just moved on. But as the affected families that are still hoping that their girls will return, mark 365 days since the abductions, it is time to remind a distracted world that Boko Haram must be defeated. Social media won't return the girls, but the world's attention can help. Let us continue to demand that our girls be brought back.
How can we contribute to #bringbackourgirls?