ABUJA (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Parents of Nigerian schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram more than two years ago said on Monday they felt wounded after watching a video posted by the Islamist militants that showed dozens of the girls.
In the video published by the militants on social media on Sunday, a masked man stands behind a group of the girls, and says some of them have been killed in air strikes.
Many of the girls’ parents in the northeastern town of Chibok said they tried to watch the video straight away, but were unable to see it due to the poor internet connection.
Three of the parents on Monday drove two hours to the nearby town of Mubi, where they used a computer in a church to watch the video – hoping to see their daughters alive.
“I couldn’t identify my daughter among the girls,” Yana Galang, the women’s leader of the Association of Parents of the Abducted Girls from Chibok, said after watching the video.
“It wounded my heart,” Galang told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone, describing how she broke down in tears and found herself unable to watch the whole video.
Boko Haram kidnapped 219 girls from their school in Chibok, in April 2014, as part of a seven-year-old insurgency to set up an Islamic state in the north that has killed some 15,000 people and displaced more than two million.
Some girls escaped in the melee but parents of those still missing accused former President Goodluck Jonathan, Nigeria’s then leader, of not doing enough to find their daughters, whose disappearance sparked a global campaign #bringbackourgirls.
In the video, one veiled girl could be seen holding a baby, while unidentified bodies could be seen on the ground.
“Some of the girls, about 40 of them with God’s permission have been married, some of them have died as a result of bombing by the infidels,” said the masked man in the video.
The two other parents, who travelled with Galang to Mubi, were able to identify their daughters in the video.
“This thing has become a wound for us,” said Zannah Lawan.
“We are praying … that we can one day see our daughters. If not, there is nothing you can say now,” Lawan added.
One of the Chibok girls, Amina Ali, was rescued from Boko Haram in May by soldiers and a civilian vigilante group.
She told her mother earlier this month that the girls were starved and resorted to eating raw beans and maize, and that some had died in captivity, suffered broken legs or gone deaf after being too close to explosions.
(Editing By Kieran Guilbert; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, corruption and climate change. Visit news.trust.org)