Parents plead for return of abducted schoolgirls

By Ola Awoniyi

Four female students who were abducted by gunmen are reunited with their families in Chibok, Nigeria. Photo / AP
Four female students who were abducted by gunmen are reunited with their families in Chibok, Nigeria. Photo / AP

Desperate parents of the more than 200 abducted schoolgirls in Nigeria have called for authorities there to bring in foreign help to secure their release.

Frustrated by the lack of progress so far in trying to free their daughters, the parents called on Nigerian authorities to use support from other countries.

"By all means, lets get the support we need from global players," a former World Bank vice president, Obiageli Ezekwesili, said in a televised interview on Saturday.

She was speaking at the venue of a sit-in protest organised by dozens of mothers and women in Abuja in support of the release of the girls.

"What these women are saying is that they want their daughters freed," added Ezekwesili.

The women vowed to sustain their pressure on the Nigerian authorities to secure the release of 223 schoolgirls still being held by suspected Boko Haram Islamists.

Nigerian police on Friday put the figure at 223 out of 276 girls seized on April 14 from their school in Chibok, in the country's northeast, revising upwards the number of youngsters abducted.

School and government officials in the northeastern state of Borno had previously given lower figures on the number of girls being held.

Gunmen believed to be Islamist fighters stormed the girls' boarding school, forcing them from their dormitories onto trucks and driving them into the bush.

"We need the support of other nations. We cannot just continue to be big brother for nothing," said another woman protester.

The Nigerian government said that it has set up a committee, presided over by a senior army general, to advise it on a mission to secure the release of the girls.

US Secretary of State John Kerry on Saturday vowed that Washington will do "everything possible" to help Nigeria deal with Boko Haram militants.

"Let me be clear. The kidnapping of hundreds of children by Boko Haram is an unconscionable crime," Kerry said in a policy speech in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.

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