Nigeria (MNN) — Over 200 Chibok schoolgirls are still missing, despite a “false alarm” raised this weekend in Cameroon.
Things aren’t getting easier, and concerns for the girls are growing. Kidnapped women and girls are increasingly being used by Boko Haram terrorists as suicide bombers.
“We certainly want to pray for these girls. We know many of them were Christians that were kidnapped. We want to pray for encouragement and their protection.”
As reported by BBC News, a young woman claiming to be one of the Chibok schoolgirls was arrested in Cameroon over the weekend. She and an older woman had crossed the border on Friday, and the little girl–her age is reportedly between 9- and 12-years-old–had explosives strapped to her body.
Yesterday morning, a senior Nigerian official confirmed to BBC that the minor was not one of the Chibok schoolgirls. The girl is from Chibok and was abducted by Boko Haram, other reports confirm, but she was not part of the group taken in April 2014.
Nonetheless, the circumstances surrounding her arrest point to a bigger concern, Nettleton observes.
“It’s not just about kidnapping; it’s not just about providing wives for their fighters. It really is about turning these kidnapped girls into weapons, into bombs.”
Around this time a year ago, Fund for Peace released a report highlighting Boko Haram’s increasing use of female suicide bombers. Since November 2014, the frequency and number of attacks involving female suicide bombers risen notably.
“[Buhari] came to office as the guy who said, ‘I will take care of Boko Haram, vote for me’…. Now, he’s been in office for over a year, he wants to [show success],” says Nettleton.
“They have taken some of the territory back from Boko Haram. But to use the word ‘victory’ certainly seems premature.”
Chibok schoolgirls aren’t the only ones
The Chibok schoolgirls, though they’ve gained international attention, are not the only group of concern. Boko Haram also captured hundreds of schoolchildren from Damasak, Nigeria, in 2014 and have yet to release any details about their whereabouts.
According to a report released the other day by Human Rights Watch, Boko Haram raided Damasak on November 24, 2014. When Nigerian forces regained control of the town the following year, with help from neighboring Niger and Chad, militants fled and took approximately 300 students with them.
The students had been attending Damasak’s Zanna Mobarti Primary School, and were between the ages of 7 and 17 at the time of their kidnapping. According to Human Rights Watch, a group of about 100 other women and children were joined with the 300 Damasak students.
Though Damasak is “the largest documented school abduction by Boko Haram militants,” officials have so far been silent on the subject. Human Rights Watch is calling on the Nigerian government to take action and address the situation.
How you can help
The whole situation can seem hopeless, but that’s why your continued involvement is so crucial. As long as people still care, hope remains for Boko Haram captives.
Pray that the “spiritual seeds” planted by parents, teachers, and mentors of the Chibok schoolgirls will flourish, even after two years of captivity, Nettleton requests.
Pray also for the entire nation of Nigeria.
“We want to pray that good governance will happen,” says Nettleton.
“We want to pray that the government will get a handle on Boko Haram…and hopefully free some of the captives that have been taken.”
On Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or wherever you spend most of your free time, please share this story with others. Remind your Christian brothers and sisters about the Chibok schoolgirls and the mothers who are still waiting for their daughters to come home.
The Chibok schoolgirls aren’t the only Christian population in Nigeria facing persecution from Boko Haram. “They see anything that doesn’t ‘measure up’ to their brand of radical Sunni Islam as the enemy,” Nettleton observes.
Fulfilling their mission to help persecuted Christians, VOM is “very active” in Nigeria.
“It’s a very holistic approach: encouraging, praying, and providing spiritual encouragement, but also providing very practical help, like medical care,” Nettleton explains. “[We’re] even providing prosthetics to those who have lost limbs.”