3 Years Later, Parents of Kidnapped Chibok Schoolgirls Still Wait for Their Release

Bring Back Our Girls campaigners protested on Thursday in Lagos, Nigeria, and called on the government to rescue the girls still held by Boko Haram. (Sunday Alamba/Associated Press)

For three grueling years Pogu and Yana Galang have waited, desperate for their daughters to return home.

The three girls were among nearly 300 female students kidnapped on April 15, 2014, when members of Boko Haram stormed their boarding school in the village of Chibok in northeastern Nigeria during the week of final exams.

The Galangs have parsed numerous rumors and government statements about the captive girls’ well-being. They spotted one daughter, Saratu Ayuba, in images of the hostages that have trickled out from the militants’ faraway hide-outs.

When one of the girls from Chibok was found roaming in the forest last year, and a few weeks later, in October, when another group of 21 girls was released, the Galangs listened intently for fresh word of their own daughters’ fate. The girls freed in October told the anxious parents that when they left their camp, Ms. Ayuba and her sisters Rifkatu Galang and Margaret Yamma were healthy.

That was the last news the Galangs have had of their daughters. They try to console themselves with the fact that they have seen no images of their corpses.

“The government keeps promising us that our daughters would be rescued,” said Yana Galang. “It’s taking longer than we expected, so the pain persists.”

On Thursday, Nigerian government officials said they were negotiating the release of more of the nearly 200 girls who remain captive. But the government is known for exaggerating its successes against Boko Haram. Officials made the same statement months ago, so the new one generated little optimism among family members.

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SOURCE: NY Times, Ibrahim Sawab and Dionne Searcey