On the night of April 14, 2014, Boko Haram, extremists raided Chibok High School in north-eastern Nigeria and kidnapped 276 girls all aged between 12 and 18 years. 57 of them managed to escape. Two years later, or rather 730 days later, 219 girls are still missing, and their whereabouts unknown.
Rescue attempts have failed despite the famous #bringbackourgirls global campaign, and U.S. first lady Michelle Obama’s call for the rescue of the girls.
In early January, Nigerian President Buhari had asked for fresh investigations to be launched, adding that he was ready to negotiate with Boko Haram.
Hope for the girls was briefly raised in April, 2015, when the Nigerian military announced it had rescued 200 girls and 93 women from the Sambisa forest. It was later revealed that the Chibok girls were not among them.
Amnesty International says that, about 2000 boys and girls have been abducted by the Boko Haram since the beginning of 2014, adding that they are forced to serve as cooks, sex slaves, fighters and even suicide bombers.
Sources say that according to various human rights organizations and accounts by some of the kidnapped girls who escaped, many girls who remain in captivity are being forced by Boko Haram to participate in insurgent activities throughout Nigeria and in the region.
The girls have been raped, drugged, beaten and brainwashed by the militants, and are being used as suicide bombers, torturers and even as killers on behalf of their captors. Indeed, the Boko Haram insurgency has spilled over into the Lake Chad region, spreading insecurity within Cameroon’s far north, Chad and Niger.
The militant group is demanding the adoption of sharia, or Islamic law, in Nigeria, but a regional offensive against them last year drove the insurgents from most of their traditional strongholds, denying them their dream of an Islamic emirate in northeastern Nigeria.
Now, increasingly on the back foot, Boko Haram is retaliating with a deadly guerrilla campaign against civilians.