Saturday, April 16, 2016

Chibok girls: We are all very embarrased and ashamed that over 200 girls could disappear like this- Cardinal Onaiyekan

Cardinal John Onaiyekan, Archbishop of Abuja, said the Nigerian government has to carry out negotiations sooner or later to secure the release of the Chibok girls. His remarks came in the wake of the release of a video by Boko Haram purportedly showing 15 of the kidnapped schoolgirls.

The Archbishop who spoke to Susy Hodges on the second anniversary of the kidnapping of the Chibok girls on Thursday April14, said he believes the government needs "to go beyond a military response" to Boko Haram if they want to rescue these girls and the thousands of other innocent civilians who are being held by the Islamic group.

He revealed that there is widespread embarrassment among Nigerians on this anniversary over the continuing failure to locate and rescue the kidnapped Chibok schoolgirls despite a global media campaign.

"We are all very embarrassed and very ashamed that over 200 girls could disappear like this."

On the positive side, the Nigerian cardinal said he has learnt that many of the people displaced from their homes by the Boko Haram militants when they overran large swathes of territory in north eastern Nigeria a couple of years ago are now returning to their villages because of recent advances by the military against the Boko Haram. He said the Islamic militants are now largely “confined to the inner areas of the forest."

Asked about whether the government is likely to open negotiations to secure the release of the Chibok schoolgirls and the hundreds of other civilians seized by the Boko Hara militants, Cardinal Onaiyekan said he firmly believes that a military campaign is not the sole means of solving this problem.

“There have to be negotiations sooner or later. The government needs to go beyond a military response." Cardinal Onaiyekan said given the signs that many of the Boko Haram militants are now "tired" and losing their impetus and much of the territory they once controlled, they should be encouraged to hand in their arms and seek reconciliation.

Source: Vatican Radio

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