April 14 marked one year since the Chibok girls were abducted by Boko Haram militants in the town of Chibok in northern Nigeria. In a sign of solidarity, Ugandan women led by UWONET presented a statement to the Nigerian Ambassador to Uganda Hon. Cornelius Olouwateru and called upon the Nigerian government to make it a priority to find the girls, and put short, medium and long term mechanisms to respond to the post abduction needs and concerns of the girls, the parents and community at large, for them to reclaim their freedom and dignity.
“We are concerned about the worsening situation of women and girls in Nigeria , and in particular the Chibok girls, whom we are commemorating one year today, since they were forcefully abducted and to date many of them have not returned. Women and girls continue to be abducted from public places in different parts of the country- a phenomenon treated with the generalised tolerance of violence against women in society. We are informed that even those in the state whose primary responsibility is to purse justice, have not done much,” Rita Aciro the Executive Director UWONET said.
“Rape and sexual slavery are recurring features of the treatment of women and girls in war situations. We fear for these girls’ safety and their physical and psychological state can only be imagined! The trauma their parents and the community are facing is a huge problem that is not being addressed,” she added
Ruth Odjiambo Ochieng from ISIS-Women’s International Cross Cultural Exchange also addressed the High Commissioner of Nigeria Ambassador Oluwatero and raised concern about the failure of Africa as a whole in protecting women and children despite existing governance systems. She expressed frustration about the lack of action by the African Union to bring peace in African states and its neglect of women and children in war torn areas.
“Women are tired of being dehumanized while the African Union makes verbal promises of protection and a safer environment,” she said.
The Ambassador re-affirmed the Nigerian government’s resolve to rescue the girls. He said that so far 30 girls have been rescued and they will be given psychosocial support. The ambassador expressed sorrow at the delay in locating and rescuing the Chibok girls. However, he stated that he was encouraged by the endeavors of the Nigerian government in collaboration with the surrounding countries Cameron, Chad and the African Union in recovering local government areas in Borno state from the control of Boko Haram militants. He believes this effort is a reflection of the determination that the Nigerian government has in locating the girls.
On the night of 14–15 April 2014, 276 female students were kidnapped from the Government Secondary School in the town of Chibok in Borno State, Nigeria by armed militants of Boko Haram. A year on majority of this girls are still in captivity in an unknown location.