UPDATE: 2:00 PM EST
As reports of the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight and the capsized South Korean ferry continue to be looped on popular cable networks, news of more than 200 Nigerian students being kidnapped from school is slow to make its rounds.
It’s been two weeks since rumored Islamic extremists stormed a remote boarding school in Nigeria to carry out the mass abduction of 200 young women and girls. It is said that two groups of the girls, perhaps 30 in all, managed to escape.
The rest, however, seem to have disappeared into the forest. And despite efforts from local security forces to recover the young women, the search has produced not even a lead.
Mothers and fathers, desperate for any clues about their whereabouts, are urging the Nigerian government to rescue their daughters, begging with the kidnappers to have mercy on the girls.
“I have not seen my dear daughter, she is a good girl,” cried Musa Muka, whose 17-year-old Martha was taken away. “We plead with the government to help rescue her and her friends; we pray nothing happens to her.”
But the families are skeptical. The government, despite their efforts, announced last week that security forces had rescued all but eight of the kidnapped girls, a statement they were forced to retract days later. Still, they insist the search is going as well as it can.
“The operation is going on and we will continue to deploy more troops,” Defense Ministry spokesman Major General Chris Olukolade told the Associated Press, adding that air and land patrols are hunting for the students.
BBC correspondent Will Ross spoke with parents in Lagos about their frustrations.
“I’ve spoken to one father who told me they feel thoroughly let down by the government. When I said the military put out a statement saying they are intensifying the search he said, ‘They haven’t shown us they have don’t anything yet, I’ll have to see it.’”
Skepticism over the way Nigeria’s military has handled the five-year-old Islamic uprising has also contributed to the loss of faith in the government.
According to The Guardian:
No one has admitted carrying out the mass kidnapping, although it is assumed to be the work of Boko Haram, the al-Qaida-linked jihadi group. Amnesty International says 1,500 people have been killed this year in the conflict between Boko Haram and Nigerian security forces, more than half of them civilians. The latest bombing by the group was in Abuja, on the same day the girls were abducted, in which at least 70 people died.
Meanwhile, parents have begun to search for the girls, who have been missing since April 15, themselves. People have also taken to Twitter, using the tag #BringBackOurGirls to foster awareness regarding the tragic incident. All of which has begged Twitter users and parents of those abducted to ask, “why isn’t this important to big news stations?”
Anne Perkins of the Guardian has a theory:
The fate of the Nigerian girls, who had been recalled to class in order to sit a physics exam, when all the other schools in the area were closed by security fears, has not been entirely ignored by the world’s media. But it has been overwhelmed by the story of the sinking of the Sewol.
Some of the reasons for that are obvious. The South Korean story has unfolded on camera, in a first-world country with every facility for news reporting. In contrast, the young Nigerians have vanished into the darkness of a dangerous world.
It is easy to feel that what happens [in Nigeria] is not real in the way that what happens on camera in South Korea is real. Watching the images of the almost mad grief of the parents, ready to plunge into the water themselves to find their sons and daughters, is like an awful realisation of one’s own worst imaginings.
There is no such vivid expression of suffering from Borno, only the grainy images sent on poor satellite links showing the familiar devastation of catastrophe that could come from any of countless news reports.
Or, could it be, that the world believes these girls to be dispensable? Does the media divert their attention from an abduction of this scale because it occurred in Nigeria?
Whatever the reason, the blindness needs to cease. Moving into another week without finding the girls lowers the chances that they will be found alive. And refusing to talk about it doesn’t make the problem go away — it makes it bigger. Dire. And maybe even fatal.
To follow along with search efforts or to start a conversation about the missing girls, remember to use the hashtags #BringBackOurGirls, #Bringbackourdaughters or #HelpTheGirls.
SOURCE: The Guardian, BBC, Twitter