WCC calls for renewed efforts to find kidnapped Nigerian girls

By agency reporter
April 18, 2016

In April 2014, 276 girls were kidnapped by the extremist group Boko Haram from the Government Girls Secondary School in the town of Chibok, Borno State, Nigeria. Though 57 girls escaped, 219 are still missing.

The recent release of video footage of some of the Chibok girls, apparently filmed in December 2015, appears to show 15 girls standing together against a wall.

“This causes the missing girls’ families fresh anguish but also gives them fresh hope that their daughters and sisters may yet return to the homes and communities from which they have been stolen”, said the World Council of Churches (WCC) General Secretary, the Rev Dr Olav Fykse Tveit

Throughout these two years, the work of the 'Bring back our girls' campaign, led by a number of courageous Nigerian women, galvanised a global community and social media outcry calling for safe return of the girls.

“These girls are not forgotten”, said Tveit. “The World Council of Churches calls for renewed and redoubled efforts by the Nigerian government and authorities to find and release the missing girls from their captivity, and to restore them to their waiting families.”

Human rights organisations report that some 2,000 girls and boys have been abducted by Boko Haram since 2014, with many used as sex slaves and fighters.

Tveit added prayers that those who have escaped and returned home will not face stigmatisation, particularly those who have become pregnant during captivity and are now young mothers. “We call on religious leaders to remind their faithful that these innocent girls are victims, and should therefore not face double-victimisation from their own community members. Stigmatising them would amount to violating their basic human rights and human dignity twice.”

WCC and its member churches and friends also hold in thought and prayer all girls and women around the world held in conditions of enforced servitude, sexual slavery, child marriage and other oppressive and dehumanising situations, Tveit said. “We pray that they may all be liberated, returned to their families, and their God-given human dignity and rights recognised and restored."

The WCC is supporting the development of an interreligious centre in Kaduna, Nigeria, to be jointly run by the Christian Council of Nigeria and Jama’atu Nasril Islam. The centre will monitor incidents of violence with a particular concern for violence suffered by women.

* The World Council of Churches promotes Christian unity in faith, witness and service for a just and peaceful world. An ecumenical fellowship of churches founded in 1948, by the end of 2012 the WCC had 345 member churches representing more than 500 million Christians from Protestant, Orthodox, Anglican and other traditions in over 110 countries. The WCC works cooperatively with the Roman Catholic Church.

* World Council of Churches http://www.oikoumene.org/en

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