Sunday, April 14, marked the five-year anniversary of the day 276 girls were kidnapped from a school in Nigeria. While some have escaped and others have been released, more than 100 girls are still missing.
It was in the middle of the night when militants entered a government secondary school and kidnapped 276 young girls in northeastern Nigeria in 2014. Fifty-seven girls were able to escape initially, jumping from the trucks they were transported in, and fleeing their captors. But 219 remained.
The terrorist group Boko Haram claimed responsibility for the mass kidnapping. A video reportedly surfaced that showed the group’s leaders saying quote “I abducted your girls. I will sell them in the market.”
The mass kidnapping sparked international outrage, and a number of celebrities and politicians responded by using the hashtag “Bring back our girls” on social media.
The campaign died down after the Obamas received backlash for failing to show support for the young girls who live in the Middle East, where the U.S. was launching bombing campaigns, which included thousands of drone strikes.
Weeks after they were taken, Nigeria’s Defense Chief said that the military knew where they were being held, but they couldn’t risk trying to rescue them, because they feared violence from Boko Haram.
Through a series of interviews, Amnesty International also confirmed that Nigerian security forces knew about a planned attack on the town up to four hours before it happened. But they failed to stop it.
In the following months, the US and the UK conducted surveillance. Reports later revealed that they located the girls within weeks, but officials claimed they did not intervene because the Nigerian government turned down their help.
A new president was elected in 2015, marking the first peaceful transfer of power since Nigeria declared independence in 1960. The country’s new president pledged his commitment to bringing back the girls who were kidnapped—a promise he mentioned once again on the fifth anniversary of their disappearance.
Since then, various girls have been found and rescued, and more than 100 have been freed following negotiations between the terrorist group and the Nigerian government.
On the 5th anniversary of their kidnapping, at least 112 girls are still missing and many of them are now women. Their ongoing disappearance and the tragic loss of their childhood has left many wondering whether both the local government and governments around the world have done enough to fight for their release.