Malala criticises ‘weak’ effort to free girls seized by Boko Haram

Nobel Peace Prize winner says more would have been done if girls were from more privileged background

Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani schoolgirl shot in the head by the Taliban, has criticised Nigerian and world leaders for not doing enough to free hundreds of schoolgirls kidnapped 301 days ago by Boko Haram.

The joint Nobel Peace Prize winner said much more would have been done to win their release had they come from a more privileged background.

“Nigerian leaders and the international community can and must do much more to resolve this crisis and change their weak response to date,” she wrote on her blog. “If these girls were the children of politically or financially powerful parents, much more would be done to free them.

"But they come from an impoverished area of northeast Nigeria and sadly little has changed since they were kidnapped."



Malala urged the incoming Nigerian government, which will be elected at the end of next month, to make the kidnapped girls from Chibok a priority in their first 100 days in office. “Politicians running for office in the upcoming March elections should not only demonstrate their empathy but finally take some responsibility for this tragedy,” she said.

“The leaders of Nigeria should commit to work together and make the case of the Chibok girls a priority in their first 100 days in office, as well as the education of every Nigerian child.”

Malala, who was shot by the Taliban for campaigning for girls’ education, visited Nigeria in July, when she pledged to help free the schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram, the Islamist militants who control large tracts of territory in the northeast.

Boko Haram, inspired by the Taliban, say they are fighting to establish an Islamic state. The group, whose name means “western education is sinful”, has killed thousands and abducted hundreds since launching an uprising in 2009.

International attention

The girls’ abduction drew international attention to the war in Nigeria’s northeast and the growing security risk that Boko Haram poses to the country, Africa’s most populous nation and leading energy producer.

A #BringBackOurGirls Twitter campaign supported by Michelle Obama and Angelina Jolie heaped pressure on authorities to act, and Goodluck Jonathan, the Nigerian president, pledged to save the girls, drawing promises of Western help to do so.

But 301 days on, most of the girls remain in captivity, although some have managed to escape. The Nigerian government has been heavily criticised for failing to protect civilians in an increasingly violent conflict that left about 10,000 dead last year.

– (Guardian service)