A UAE newspaper has said that in April 2014, Boko Haram kidnapped more than 270 girls from a school in the remote town of Chibok in Nigeria. The incident sparked worldwide outrage and a strong online campaign endorsed by, among others, America’s first lady. Yet two years on, most of the girls are still missing.
“Last week, the group released a video showing a militant standing before a few dozen girls. It is believed that the girls featured in the video are with a breakaway faction led by group leader Abubakar Shekau,” said The National in an editorial on Tuesday.
“This is the third video to be released of the girls since they were kidnapped more than two years ago. Despite intelligence and logistic support from the United States, the United Kingdom, France and China, efforts to find and rescue the girls have not yet succeeded.
“The main reason seems to be the apparent lack of effort put into trying to find the girls by the Nigerian authorities. President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria, who has claimed that Boko Haram has been ‘technically defeated’, has admitted in the past that his government has no idea where the girls are. In the video, the masked Boko Haram fighter taunts Mr. Buhari, ‘You keep lying in your media that you will rescue them; they have been with us for over two years, yet you don’t know where they are’.”
“It is understandable that Mr. Buhari would think of this as an internal issue. Indeed, many Nigerians are frustrated that the Chibok girls crowd out other news from Nigeria. But the return of the girls is vital, not merely for the families who miss them, but for the psychological blow it would strike against Boko Haram and the wider jihadi movement.
“The longer the girls remain kidnapped, the harder it will be to find them. Already Boko Haram has fragmented into at least two factions – the government says it is in contact with those who released the video, but it is unclear which faction they mean. If the two factions begin to wage a war against one another, a not-unknown phenomenon among jihadi groups, the girls could be caught in the firing line.
The Abu Dhabi-based daily concluded, “If there is any hope of putting an end to this horrendous spiral of violence, it has to be through security cooperation with the region’s states and the international community. The fate of the Chibok girls is now important far beyond Nigeria. Mr. Buhari should recognise this, and if his government needs assistance, he ought to ask.”