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Rally for Chibok girls marks 500 days since kidnap

Boko Haram’s actions drew international condemnation and online campaigns, and high profile figures such as Michelle Obama calling for their release.

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But little progress has made in bringing the the girls back.

 

For 500 days, it’s been a simple, yet very clear message.

 

Bring back our girls – now, and alive.

 

It’s been over a year since Boko Haram militants abducted the girls.

 

They may still be missing but on the streets of Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, they’re not forgotten.

 

Relatives and supporters have commemorated the milestone with singing and marches across the country.

 

The father of one of the missing girls, Enoch Mark, puts the grief and anguish into words.

 

“Five hundred days is not five days, it’s very painful. Our daughters, in their mother land, they are now in slavery, it is very painful.”

 

Another parent, Esther Yakubu, expresses her dissatisfaction with the official response to the kidnapping.

 

“They cannot get just one of them, just one! And they cannot get the necessary information where these girls are. Now we don’t even know whether they are alive or dead. With faith, with hope I know that she is alive but they are not doing anything for us at all.”

 

It was in April last year when Boko Haram militants stormed into a high school in the remote town of Chibok, in Borno state, capturing 276 girls who were preparing for their end-of-year exams.

 

57 girls have escaped, but little has been heard of the 219 others since appearing in a Boko Haram video in May last year.

 

A viral social media campaign was launched shortly after the incident, dubbed ‘Bring Back Our Girls’.

 

It attracted international outcry and celebrities led the digital activism.

 

Nigeria’s government was criticised for not responding swiftly to the incident.

 

Despite offers from the international community to support Nigeria’s rescue effort, there’s still no sign of the missing school girls.

Relatives and supporters are hoping for a renewed push to return the girls home safely.

 

This activist says many children in Nigeria now live in fear.

 

“The captivity of the Chibok girls, one thing that it has done to us is the fact that it has made our children to be so afraid. They have this fear that they too can go to school and be taken away and nothing will be done for 500 days just the way that Chibok girls have been taken away.”

But it’s not just the Chibok girls who’ve been abducted by Boko Haram.

 

According to international rights group Amnesty International, at least 2,000 women and girls have been captured by the group since the start of last year.

 

It says many have been forced into sexual slavery and trained to fight.

 

Activist Bukky Shonibare says boys have also been seized.

 

“Several girls have been abducted, several young women, several boys, several people have been killed as a result of this insurgency in Nigeria.”

 

The Nigerian community in Australia has also expressed concern at the lack of progress.

 

The federal government last year offered Australia’s assistance in finding the girls but the offer was not taken up.

 

The President of the Nigerian Society of Victoria, Fred Alale, says Australia should keep trying to help.

 

“I guess the challenge is to maintain a concerted effort. To make sure that the Australian government follows through on some of those offers of assistance.”