Worldwide vigils on July 23 to mark 100 days since Chibok girls were kidnapped
Chibok girls, Gordon Brown, Safe schools
Vigils will be held around the world for the kidnapped schoolgirls of Chibok tomorrow – 100 days after their abduction by Boko Haram.
Supporters will light candles and stand in solidarity at the same time in Africa, Asia, Europe and the United States.
The Bring Back Our Girls group will play a leading role, with events organised in the Nigerian capital Abuja. Marches will be held across the country and prayers will be said in churches and mosques.
In New York City, supporters will assemble outside the Mission of Nigeria to the United Nations and walk to the UN headquarters.
Vigils are also scheduled to take place in Lahore, Pakistan; Lome, Togo; Dhaka, Bangladesh; Jaipur, India; Bradford, England; Pedroucos, Portugal; and Illinois, USA.
Groups including the Global March Against Child Labour in Africa, Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi in Pakistan and Bachpan Bachao Andolan in India are marking the 100 days by holding vigils, and A World at School’s Global Youth Ambassadors are spearheading the campaign across the world.
A new online petition by A World at School – which you can sign on this page – will also call for the safe return of the girls. People can also leave messages of support along with the petition and these will be passed to Chibok community leaders and families of the girls.
The petition will also be sent, by UN Special Envoy for Global Education Gordon Brown, to Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan and Ban Ki-moon. The Chibok girls’ families are also expected to sign the petition and offer their full support for the Safe Schools Initiative.
The iniative – a programme to pilot 500 safe schools in northern Nigeria – brings the Nigerian government and Nigerian business leaders together with the international community to ensure children are secure when learning. The fund total currently stands at $23million.
Mr Brown, who will start his second term as education special envoy this month, said: “We, of course, hope that the Chibok girls will be released earlier. However, by marking the 100th day of the abduction of the girls, kidnapped by Boko Haram terrorists, and by pledging never to abandon them, we are reminding people that we are in the midst of a global civil rights struggle.
“Girls’ rights should be taken seriously and they should be at school free of intimidation and violence.
“We will mark the 100 days by pledging to rebuild their Chibok school and by calling for international support for safe schools across Nigeria.”
The day of action will follow today’s meetintg in Abuja between Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan and the families of the Chibok girls. Then a message will be sent out that everything possible is being done to reinforce the rescue effort – with new military equipment. including helicopters that have been brought in to track movements in the forest areas of Borno state.
Last week the first meeting was held of the Safe Schools Initiative steering committee. The plan is to fortify and guard schools in Borno state first and to give parents and pupils the confidence to attend school.