Malala's "Message Of Solidarity" For #BringBackOurGirls

As the world marks one year since the mass kidnapping of hundreds of Nigerian school girls by Islamic militant fighters, Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai pledged in an open letter to keep fighting to find and rescue the more than 200 girls who are still missing.
"I am one of the millions of people around the world who keep you and your families foremost in our thoughts and prayers," Malala said in her letter. "We cannot imagine the full extent of the horrors you have endured. But please know this: We will never forget you. We will always stand with you. Today and every day, we call on the Nigerian authorities and the international community to do more to bring you home. We will not rest until you have been reunited with your families."

Yousafzai was 14 when members of the Taliban tried to murder her over her advocacy for girls' education. She survived a gunshot to the head and has dedicated herself to expanding opportunities for girls around the world. She spent her birthday last year in Nigeria with the families of some of the kidnapped girls, and criticized the government for dragging its feet on rescue efforts.

"Nigerian leaders and the international community have not done enough to help you. They must do much more to help secure your release. I am among many people pressuring them to make sure you are freed," she wrote.

On April 14, 2014, fighters from Boko Haram, an Islamic militant group that has been fighting the Nigerian government and has killed thousands of people, attacked a school in the village of Chibok and took 276 schoolgirls hostage. While 50 of them were able to escape, Nigeria's President-elect Muhammadu Buhari has promised to renew rescue efforts, but he also said in a statement Tuesday that he did not know if the remaining missing girls can be found. 

The mass kidnapping drew widespread international attention, and #bringbackourgirls is still a rallying cry for those who want more to be done to fight Boko Haram and free the Chibok schoolgirls and other kidnapping victims.
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Also on Tuesday, Amnesty International released a report on the situation in Nigeria, estimating that Boko Haram has kidnapped more than 2,000 women and girls since the beginning of 2014. Many of them, the report found, have been forced into sexual slavery and taught to fight in the terror group's army. Amnesty also estimated that Boko Haram has killed at least 5,500 people.

"I look forward to the day I can hug each one of you, pray with you, and celebrate your freedom with your families," Malala wrote. "Until then, stay strong, and never lose hope. You are my heroes."

 
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