Originally published in Crossmap.com
Malala Yousafzai, the youngest-ever Nobel peace laureate, has called on Nigeria to intensify efforts to free 219 schoolgirls who were abducted by Islamist militants six months ago.
The Nobel Peace Prize winner said campaigners needed to raise their voices “louder than ever” to demand the freedom of the girls, according to a report on the BBC website.
The BBC said Boko Haram group sparked global outrage when it seized the girls from a school in a predominantly Christian village, and foreign governments including the US and China, have sent experts to Nigeria to help track them down. Boko Haram fighters abducted the girls during a raid on their boarding school in Chibok town in north-eastern Nigeria in April.
According to the BBC news report, Malala said in a statement that the schoolgirls needed to be reunited with their families and receive a quality and safe education.
“I urge the Nigerian government and the international community to redouble their efforts to bring a quick and peaceful conclusion to this crisis,” Malala said.
The BBC reports that critics accuse the Nigerian government of not doing enough to secure the release of the girls — a charge ministers deny.
“We are in a desperate situation. Sometimes, when we go to the farm and remember what has happened we just start crying and can’t work,” Hannatu Dauda told the BBC.
She says she last heard from her abducted daughter, Saratu, when Boko Haram raided her boarding school in Chibok in April.
“When she called, we were all lying in the compound. She said: ‘Some people have come to take us and they have rounded us up. Please pray for us.’ And then her father and the rest of us kept praying,” Mrs Dauda recalled.
“After some minutes she called again to say: ‘Daddy they have taken all of us from school. We have been loaded onto a truck and we don’t know where they are taking us to. Please tell my mummy to forgive me until we meet again’,” she added.
An international campaign was launched to get the girls freed.
The BBC said activists earlier tried to march to the official residence of President Goodluck Jonathan in Abuja. But Maureen Kabrik, an organizer of the Bring Back Our Girls campaign in Nigeria, said an “army of policemen” halted the protest.
“We’re here. We’re a civil group. We’re not a disobedient group,” she told BBC Focus on Africa. “Yet, they stopped us with heavy arms.”
The BBC said police have not commented on why they blocked the march.
Malala, a 17-year-old Pakistani campaigner for girls’ education, met Mr Jonathan in July to discuss the abductions.
She won the Nobel Peace Prize earlier this month, making her the youngest ever recipient of the award.