Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai on Sunday called for global support to help secure the release of more than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram, as the world marked 300 days since the girls were taken hostage.
“As we mark this tragic 300th day of the captivity for hundreds of kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls, I call on people everywhere to join me in demanding urgent action to free these heroic girls,” she said.
Boko Haram fighters seized 276 teenagers from the Government Girls´ Secondary School in the remote town of Chibok, in Borno state, northeast Nigeria, on the evening of April 14, 2014.
Fifty-seven managed to escape but 219 are still being held, despite military claims that they had been located but that a rescue operation was too fraught with danger to be conducted.
The abductions and subsequent claims from Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau that they have been forcibly converted to Islam, or married off, sparked global outrage.
Malala, 17, who was shot by the Pakistani Taliban for defying threats about her attending school, visited Nigeria in July last year to urge President Goodluck Jonathan to take action.
On Sunday, Malala said that the government in Abuja and the international community “can and must do much more to resolve this crisis and change their weak response to date.”
“If these girls were the children of politically or financially powerful parents, much more would be done to free them,” the children´s rights campaigner added in a statement.
“But they come from an impoverished area of northeast Nigeria, and sadly, little has changed since they were kidnapped.”
Malala said politicians who secure a win should commit to making the Chibok girls´ release – and the education of all Nigerian children – a priority in their first 100 days in office.
“Let´s end this horrible saga now. Leaders must make sure the effort results in a real outcome: the return of the Chibok girls,” she added.