The plight of 219 Chibok schoolgirls abducted two years ago is all too common in Nigeria’s conflict-affected north-eastern communities, and up to 7,000 women and girls might be living in abduction and sex slavery, senior United Nations officials are warning.
“Humanitarian agencies are concerned that two years have passed, and still the fate of the Chibok girls and the many, many other abductees is unknown,” said Fatma Samoura, the Humanitarian Coordinator for Nigeria in a UN report released Thursday.
At the hands of their captors, they have suffered forced recruitment, forced marriage, sexual slavery and rape, and have been used to carry bombs.
“Between 2,000 and 7,000 women and girls are living in abduction and sex slavery,” said Jean Gough, Country Representative of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
Women and girls who have escaped Boko Haram have reported undergoing a systematic training programme to train them as bombers, according to UNICEF.
And 85 percent of the suicide attacks by women globally in 2014 were in Nigeria.
In May 2015, it was reported that children had been used to perpetrate three-quarters of all suicide attacks in Nigeria since 2014. Many of the bombers had been brainwashed or coerced.
As the Nigerian military recaptures territory from Boko Haram, abducted women and girls are being recovered.
Over and above the horrific trauma of sexual violence these girls experienced during their captivity, many are now facing rejection by their families and communities, because of their association with Boko Haram.
The Chibok abduction was not an isolated incident. In November 2014, 300 children were abducted from a school in Damasak, Borno, and are still missing.
A UNICEF report, released earlier this week, states that 1.3 million children have been displaced by the conflict across the Lake Chad Basin, almost a million of whom are in Nigeria.
Similarly, Human Rights Watch has reported that 1 million children have lost access to education.
More needs to be done by the Nigerian Government and the international community to keep them safe from the horrors other women and girls have endured.
– African News Agency (ANA)