Chibok mother: Please, don't forget our missing girls.


She still chokes at the thought of her missing daughter. Over the last five years, Yana Galang says, 'I can't stay three days without tears rolling down my eyes.'

Ms. Galang is the mother of Rifkatu, one of the 276 schoolgirls forcibly taken from a dormitory in Chibok, a small town in the northern Nigeria's Borno state on the night of 14 April 2014. Boko Haram, an armed group in the region, claimed responsibility for the kidnappings.

In September this year, Ms. Galang travelled to the United Nations headquarters in New York where world leaders were meeting for the General Assembly to remind them, and the rest of the world, not to forget the Chibok girls who are still missing. She asked for help to bring them back home.

'As a mother, if your child goes out and stays so long, you worry about it,' she said in an interview in New York.

Boko Haram has been waging a brutal insurgency in the northern Nigeria region since 2009. Caught up in the conflict, under frequent attacks and fearing for their lives, many civilians have fled their homes. Some of them took shelter in other parts of Nigeria. Others crossed the border and sought refuge in neighbouring countries such as Cameroon, Chad and Niger, triggering a humanitarian crisis across the borders.

Killing and kidnapping of civilians are common with Boko Haram. Yet the mass abduction of the girls from a secondary school shocked and mobilized the world around the 'Bring Back Our Girls' campaign aimed at securing their release.

Several countries and organisations offered their support. Over the years, about half the girls either escaped or were freed and reunited with their families. However, 112 others including Rifkatu, are still missing.

'As of now, it has been five years, yet I haven't seen my child,' Ms. Galang laments.

The global outrage has waned, but back in Chibok, hundreds of mothers are still longing to be reunited with their daughters. Their pain and anguish remain.

'Daughters of Chibok,' an award-wining virtual reality documentary by Nigerian filmmaker Joel Benson, aims to revive interest in the missing girls. Ms. Galang is the main character.

'I miss my child,' Ms. Galang told Africa Renewal in an interview.

She tells of a ritual in which she often brings out Rifkatu's clothes, washes them and puts them away in...

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