One year ago today, 200 schoolgirls went missing after being kidnapped from their school in Chibok, Nigeria, by Boko Haram militants.
As with most campaigns, this one has died down in the Western media as of late – with other stories taking priority, such as Ebola, the missing students in Mexico and the return of *Game of Thrones. *
The frenzied social media campaign (#bringbackourgirls) has settled to little more than a low hum of background noise, and when Boko Haram murdered 2,000 people in a week earlier this year, it barely made the papers. Amnesty International reports that the militant group have kidnapped around 2,000 more women and girls since 2014, turning them into sex slaves or forcing them to fight.
But now that it’s been a year since the girls went missing, the story is circulating once again – and in Nigeria, the protests never stopped. People have gathered regularly in the capital city of Abuja, but is it too late now?
‘I have lost my hope in politicians because they are not doing anything,’ Hauwa, the father of Comfort, one of the girls who went missing, told CNN. ‘Only God can still help us to find them – dead or alive. But our government? Forget it.’
Every time a town or village gets taken back from Boko Haram’s hands, there’s a report on whether the girls have been found, although it’s very unlikely they’ll be brought back alive after so much time has passed.
‘A whole year has passed and they are in the hands of heartless, brutal terrorists who commit atrocities against the innocent,’ says Nigerian political analyst Edgar Amos. ‘Realistically, it is hard to claim that we will find all the girls healthy and alive.’
The abductions represents something deeper to Nigerians, the fact that a group can terrorise a country and commit such horrific acts while the government is unable to do anything about it. Parents have been forced to take their children out of education, as Boko Haram continues to take over schools in the surrounding area, and there’s a heavy sense of fear – particularly since mass graves were discovered in north-east Nigeria.
‘The recent recovery of territories in north-eastern Nigeria has brought to light macabre scenes of mass graves and more obvious signs of killings by Boko Haram,’ said Raad Zeid al Hussein, the current United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights in Nigeria. ‘These reports include the murder of the wives of combatants, women and girls held in slavery.’
It doesn’t look like the group will be slowing down any time soon, either. While there’ll be protests and vigils around the world today to pay respects to the missing schoolgirls, that doesn’t ease the parents’ pain – and it won’t bring back their girls.
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This article originally appeared on The Debrief.