Chibok girls one year on: week of vigils, events and marches to mark anniversary

Chibok girls, Children in conflicts, Girls' education, Safe schools

A week-long vigil will begin on April 8 to commemorate a year-long tragedy – the captivity of more than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls kidnapped from their school in Chibok on April 14 last year.

A year on, the parents wake up every morning not knowing whether their daughters are alive or dead and whether they have been violated, injured or sold into slavery.

Their rescue has been difficult. Because the girls have been split up into a number of different groups, a release of one group could mean that the girls in the other groups are murdered.

The photographs we are publishing today of some of the girls reveal just how vulnerable they are. Only 14, 15 and 16 and abducted while studying for their exams, the girls who wanted to be nurses, doctors and teachers are now in captivity.

They are away from their families for the first time and are now prey to the vicious and violent tactics of the kidnappers who make up the murderous army of Boko Haram.

So starting on Wednesday, a week-long remembrance of the girls will include vigils, marches, demonstrations and letter-writing. Schools in Nigeria are being called on to organise marches under the Global School Girl March slogan. At the same time the Chibok Girls Ambassadors – schoolgirls aged 10 to 18 who have volunteered their time in support – will be joined in a campaign across the globe by A World at School’s Global Youth Ambassadors, who will organise vigils in support of the girls.

In this strong, unified show of strength we will see that around the world girls are fighting back. From the child marriage-free zones in Pakistan set up by Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagah to the hundreds of female Global Youth Ambassadors fighting for equal education rights, girls are mobilising. These young women are aware they deserve more and we are doing all we can to help them.

The Safe Schools initiative in Nigeria is designed to make sure that children are safe when they are at school. Formed in May 2014 in the wake of the Chibok abductions, the fund has support from the Nigerian, US and UK governments. The initiative is committed to fund security measures including school gate guards, fortifications and surveillance equipment to guard schools.

Missing chibok girls

It will also send the clear message that every girl should be free to go to a safe school. We must build schools and make them safe so that when the Chibok girls come home, they will be able to continue their education.

The girls of Chibok must never be abandoned, neglected or forgotten, in this, their greatest hour of need. We have promised that we will Bring Back Our Girls and now we must follow words with actions.

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