The name of the Islamic terrorist group responsible for the kidnapping of 276 Nigerian schoolgirls, Boko Haram, translates to “western education is sinful.” Both Muslim and Christian girls were taken captive because of their shared offense: getting an education. In the 22 days since the girls went missing, the terrorists have continuously threatened to sell them into slavery. Oddly, the day after the kidnappings, the corrupt Nigerian government claimed that almost all of the girls had been found and returned safely home—a blatantly false statement.
Finally, just yesterday in an interview with ABC News correspondent Ginger Zee, President Obama spoke out about the tragedy, noting that Boko Haram has been “killing people ruthlessly for many years now and we’ve already been seeking greater cooperation with the Nigerians—this may be the event that helps to mobilize the entire international community to finally do something against this horrendous organization that’s perpetrated such a terrible crime.” The people of Nigeria, many of whom were previously able to ignore the deaths attributed to the Boko Haram, may now need to rise to action and abandon feelings of apathy and detachment.
Because the Nigerian government doesn’t know where the girls are or how they are faring in the hands of the extremist group (Goodluck Jonathan, the President of Nigeria, has been receiving boatloads of criticism for his inept management of the horrific situation), the White House is stepping in. Sending a team to Nigeria to assist in locating the girls as well as those responsible, the US government’s actions are both hopeful and necessary—if a little delayed.
While several girls managed to flee and find safety, the fate of the rest remains to be seen. One thing is clear, however: The girls who escaped did it completely on their own accord. There was no Nigerian rescue effort. Families are binding together more than ever before, and communities are fending for themselves as they await action both from their government and now the US intervention. Another noteworthy form of support has been demonstrated in the Malala Appeal: #BringBackOurGirls. Malala, a Pakistani school pupil and education activist who was recently nominated for the Nobel Peace Price has started the Malala Fund and is calling for urgent action.
Let’s hope it’s not too little too late.