It's the start of the New Year, and I like to ask all the children what their New Year's resolutions are.
I love their answers: "not to fight with my sister, even though she's wrong"; "to try and like math because it's not nice to not like something"; "to make my parents proud of me, but they're already pretty proud"; "to become a profession basketball player soon, I'm already 10"; and "to eat broccoli, it tastes better with peanut butter."
But one little girl gave a very different answer: she said "to find the girls in Africa who were kidnapped." She then asked whether I had forgotten them, and whether all the "big people in the world" had forgotten them.
I last wrote about the kidnapped girls for October 11, the International Day of the Girl Child, when a terrible 179 days had passed since they were stolen by Boko Haram from their boarding school in Nigeria. It is now over 270 days since the girls were taken in the middle of the night. Eight months is a long time for a daughter to go without her family, to be afraid, to suffer nightmares, and to face an uncertain daily existence. Eight months is an eternity for a parent to be without their child, to cry themselves to sleep, to fight for someone to listen, and to pray for their safe return. And eight months is long enough for international outrage to rise, fall and disappear.
Back in October, at least 11 parents of the kidnapped girls had been killed by militants or had died of illness, and the girls' hometown remained in danger. At least five towns in northeastern Nigeria had been taken over by Boko Haram. Three smaller groups of girls as well as dozens of boys and young men had been kidnapped, and more than 2,100 people had been killed.
On January 9, 2015, UN chief Ban Ki-moon urged Boko Haram to free hundreds of kidnapped schoolchildren. The UN Secretary-General Ban issued a personal appeal as a father, grandfather, and as UN chief to "immediately and unconditionally" free hundreds of children seized in April 2014.
On January 10, 2015 The Guardian reported on Boko Haram's "deadliest massacre." Two thousand people were feared dead in Nigeria. The Washington-based Council for Foreign Relations recently estimated that more than 10,000 people had been killed in Nigeria over the past year and more than one million were displaced because of Boko Haram's five-year insurgency.
Even more alarming, just two days ago, Boko Haram used a 10-year-old girl as a suicide bomber to kill about 20 people. Yesterday, two more young females were used as human-vehicles to carry the bombs, which are detonated by others.
It is time we all joined the UN chief's plea, and once again rallied to #bringbackourgirls from a terrorist organization that knows no bounds to its brutality. Join me as I call on Canada to work with the international community in addressing the ongoing violence threatening innocent women and children in Nigeria.
Let's all remind the world of the school girls' horror, nightmare and terror attack, ensure that these young girls are not forgotten, and the need to fight for their safe return to their parents' waiting arms.
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