Here is why this HRW report on the missing Damasak children may not yield any positive results
The Human Rights Watch (HRW) has released a report drawing attention to the abduction of over 400 people from Damasak in Borno state, Nigeria, last year. The report highlighted the government’s indifference to the 300 school children and about 100 women who have been carted away from the state to an unknown destination.
The organisation claims that six witnesses confirmed that Boko Haram insurgents attacked the town in November, 2014, and children between the ages of 7 and 17, alongside several women were locked inside the Zanna Mobarti Primary School in the area. Over the following weeks, they were held captive, fed rotten food and forced to learn the Quran. As a result of the inconducive living conditions, some of the people held hostage died.
In March 2015, the Boko Haram insurgents fled Damasak with their captives and, according to the witnesses who spoke to HRW, none have returned since. Not many Nigerians heard of this matter as journalists refused to visit Damasak, to protect their lives, especially with the presence of Boko Haram; therefore, it was unable to garner as much attention as the abduction of the Chibok girls in the same year.
Even though the HRW is drawing the attention of Nigerians and the government to this unfortunate occurrence, the sad reality is that it may not yield any results. Last Thursday, the Bring Back Our Girls Movement (which was created to campaign for the release of the 276 abducted girls in Chibok) met with President Buhari and, in a rather disappointing meeting, the president failed to show any form of sympathy towards the parents of the missing girls who have spent almost 2 years away from home.
If the Chibok incident, which drew a lot of attention from all over the world has failed to move the president, let alone an event which did not occur during his administration, what hope is there for the mass abduction that wasn’t as popular? Maybe the president cannot be entirely blamed even though he bragged in the past about ensuring the safe return of the missing Boko Haram captives. Still, the nation is almost at a standstill, it is possible that the president feels he has enough to deal with already without adding another case of abduction ‘inherited’ by his administration.
While the military claims they are doing all they can, one can only hope for a major breakthrough soon, if not, we may be forced to consider the bitter outcome – the abducted may never return. For now, maybe our best bet is to keep hope alive for the sake of the missing ones.
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