UNICEF yesterday issued a report saying that 800,000 children had been forced to flee their homes in northern Nigeria thanks to Boko Haram. The report was released to mark the 1-year anniversary of the abduction of 219 schoolgirls from Chibok by the Islamic militants.
You might remember the girls from Chibok; you could even be forgiven for thinking their ordeal had come to an end, what with all of the fuss that was kicked up over social media over their abduction. Surely the campaign brought them home? I mean, everybody was tweeting about it.
I speak, of course, of the #BringBackOurGirls campaign on Twitter. Within days of their disappearance the Internet exploded with “support” for the girls and their families. Politicians expressed their solidarity. First Lady Michelle Obama tweeted her support. Countless celebrities tweeted their backing too, with Kim Kardashian even putting her famous back end into it. Take that, Boko Haram.
And yet, one year on, the girls are no closer to being home. Instead, they’re stuck in a life of servitude and violence in the scrub of Northern Nigeria, lost in the blizzard of bad news blanketing our screens.
It’s lovely to think we can fix the world through our keyboards and our hashtags, it turns out that #policyishard.
The task of Boko Haram policy now falls to Nigeria’s President-elect, Muhammadu Buhari. The former general has pledged to take the fight to the militants and his background as a both a Muslim and military man should stand him in better stead than hapless former President Goodluck Jonathan. With Nigeria’s military now working in concert with Chad and Cameroon there is hope the luck of the Chibok girls will change.
What can we do to help? We could keep our fingers on the Twitter trigger, but I’m sure the parents of the Chibok schoolgirls would take a tank over a Twitter feed any day.