Abuja - Exactly two years on from their abduction by the Boko Haram sect, the fate of 219 of the Chibok schoolgirls is still unknown, but their plight is all too common in the conflict-affected communities of terror-stricken northeast Nigeria.
The girls were abducted from their dormitories at the government school on the night of April 14-15 in 2004.
Efforts to rescue them have hit a snag.
“Humanitarian agencies are concerned that two years have passed, and still the fate of the Chibok girls and the many, many other abductees is unknown,” said the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) Humanitarian Coordinator for Nigeria, Fatma Samoura.
It is feared at the hands of their captors they have suffered forced recruitment into the group, forced marriage, sexual slavery and rape, and have been used to carry bombs.
According to United Nations Children’s Fund Country Representative, Jean Gough, between 2 000 and 7 000 women and girls are living in abduction and sex slavery in the West African country.
Women and girls who have escaped Boko Haram have reported undergoing a systematic training programme while in captivity, to train them as bombers, according to UNICEF.
The UN agency reported that 85 percent of the suicide attacks by women globally in 2014 were in Nigeria.
In May 2015 it was reported that children had been used to perpetrate three-quarters of all suicide attacks in Nigeria since 2014.
Many of the bombers had been brainwashed or coerced.
Also read:WATCH: New Boko Haram video shows kidnapped Chibok girls are alive
Meanwhile, children have suffered disproportionately as a result of the North-East conflict. The Chibok abduction was not a one off: in November 2014, 300 children were abducted from a school in Damasak, Borno, and are are still missing.
A UNICEF report released earlier this week states that 1.3 million children have been displaced by the conflict across the Lake Chad Basin, almost a million of whom are in Nigeria. Similarly, Human Rights Watch have reported that 1 million children have lost access to education.
While the fate of the Chibok girls hangs in the balance, women and girls in 70 percent of vulnerable households in northeast Nigeria still face the risk of sexual and gender-based violence, according to a report published in December by UN agencies.
- CAJ News