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Campaigners ask Nigerian president: ‘Where are our girls?’

ESCAPED: Four girls who managed to flee are reunited with their families in northeastern Nigeria

THE INTERNATIONAL community has expressed outrage at the Nigerian government’s alleged lack of action to find over 200 schoolgirls who were kidnapped nearly two weeks ago.

Campaigns urging President Goodluck Jonathan to find the teenagers, abducted from their school in the country’s northeastern region on April 14 after sitting end-of-year exams, have gone viral on social media sites.

Thousands have been tweeting under the hashtags #bringbackourgirls and #whereareourdaughters, to pressure authorities to do more to rescue the girls who are believed to have been kidnapped by Boko Haram militants.

One campaigner wrote: “Twitter getting its act together to show we do care about 187 abducted schoolgirls in Nigeria.

Community activist Lee Jasper tweeted: “If the #NigerianSchoolgirls were white the world would have launched international rescue efforts.”

The voices of online campaigners joined the outcry of human rights organisations and NGOs.

International child rights charity Stepping Stones, which has bases in Nigeria and the UK, told The Voice: “Our hearts go out to these girls and their families. We support the rights of all children to live a life free from violence and fear.

“We call upon the Nigerian government to do everything it can to urgently find these girls and to make sure that all children in Nigeria have the opportunity to gain an education without the threat of violence.”

Last month, the Nigerian government pledged to take action. Security chiefs, ministers, state governors and religious leaders met to discuss the issue, but desperate parents and supporters took it upon themselves to search the dense forest for their loved ones.

An estimated 230 students were originally taken from the school in Chibok but approximately 40 girls, aged between 16 and 18, managed to escape.

One source told The Guardian that they believe they are being held in Nigeria’s Sambisa forest.

The source also said they believed the girls are now “at the beck and call” of the group and fears they “could become the latest sex slaves of the insurgents.”

Ekiti state governor Kayode Fayemi described the abduction as “the issue of the moment.”

“We must do everything to ensure that these abducted children are retrieved and protected. And the military assured us they’re doing everything in order to achieve this objective,” he said.

Nigerian political columnist Okey Ndibe, wrote in The Guardian: “Why are we sleeping easy when terrorists have kidnapped our children?”

He added: “The government seems to have renounced all responsibility for the dozens of schoolgirls abducted last week”.

British foreign secretary William Hague condemned the kidnapping, calling it “cowardly.”

He said: “The UK is a firm ally and friend of the people of Nigeria and we will continue to offer staunch support and assistance as they combat the threat posed by Boko Haram, and address the wider issues raised by this attack.”

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