She dreams of becoming a doctor.
Her cousin wants to become a scientist.
But their fates – along with more than 300 other school girls kidnapped in Africa – remain unknown.
What Happened. Why It Matters.
- Feb 26: 317 girls kidnapped in the middle of the night from a boarding school in northern Nigeria. Kidnappers unknown at this time.
- Education in Nigeria is a challenge, particularly in the north where Islamic terrorist groups have gained strength.
- UNICEF cites geography, poverty, “insurgency” and property damage as reasons “one in every five of the world’s out-of-school children is in Nigeria.”
“I couldn’t get to there to save her because the kidnappers were shooting everywhere.”
Samaila Umar heard the gunshots from afar. He tried to reach his 15-year-old daughter (who wants to study medicine) and his 14-year-old niece (who loves science), but he was unable to locate them by the time he reached the Government Girls Secondary School.
“Kidnapping for ransom is now the most thriving industry in Nigeria.”
Terrorism analyst Bulama Bukarti. Recent kidnappings have often been blamed on "bandits" rather than terrorist groups – but Bukarti says the “line between Boko Haram and the bandits is getting more and more blurred” amid growing lawlessness in Nigeria. The country's president has warned local authorities against paying ransom, saying the policy "might boomerang disastrously," encouraging more crime.
- “Bring Back Our Girls”: In 2014, Islamic terrorist group Boko Haram kidnapped 276 school girls in Nigeria, igniting international outrage. While some girls escaped, 100+ remain missing.
- Not Just Girls: 300+ boys were kidnapped in December. Dozens of boys were kidnapped days before this recent kidnapping of girls; some have already been released.
Why It Matters
“The country, which has one of Africa’s strongest armies and is a strong U.S. counterterrorism ally, is struggling to contain multiple threats: a 10-year jihadist rebellion, and swelling banditry and lawlessness that have become a conflict of overlapping militant groups.”
The Wall Street Journal
While the Nigerian gov't (federal & local) denies paying ransom, it's common belief that they do. Kidnapping school children is not unique to Nigeria – it's a problem seen elsewhere in Africa. We have more on this story linked in our source page.
Nigerian Abductions Part Of A Terrible Pattern In African Conflicts https://www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2014/05/17/313144946/nigerian-abductions-part-of-a-terrible-pattern-in-african-conflicts
by Jenna Lee,