Candlelight vigil for kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls | News | DW | 27.08.2015
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Candlelight vigil for kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls

Marches and a candlelight vigil have been held to mark 500 days since the girls were abducted from Chibok. More than 200 youngsters are missing, amid fears they've been married off and sold into prostitution.

Relatives of the more than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram, marked 500 days since their abduction on Thursday, with a march through the capital Abuja.

A seperate rally was held in Lagos, organized by the #Bringbackourgirls campaign, along with a candlelight vigil in Chibok, the northeastern city from where the girls were kidnapped.

In April last year, 276 boarding school girls were seized by fighters from the hard-line Islamist group, which has captured large areas of northern Nigeria in recent years.

Fifty-seven of the youngsters escaped, but the remaining girls are thought to have been forced to convert to Islam and married off.

Aish Yesufu, a spokeswoman for a support group fighting for the girls' release, said she hoped that the “right thing would be done” under the leadership of newly-elected president Muhammadu Bahari, who replaced Goodluck Jonathan in May.

Bring Back Our Girls march in Chibok

Hundreds of people marched through Chibok, where the girls were abducted 500 days ago

Bahari has stepped up the fight-back against Boko Haram, but little has been done to win the girls' freedom.

Their kidnapping brought international attention to the brutality of the Islamist insurgency and prompted a social media campaign backed by US First Lady Michelle Obama and actress Angelina Jolie.

The Nigerian military says it knows where the girls are but refuses to free them for fear of endangering the youngsters' lives.

Amnesty International believes the girls are being held at Boko Haram camps around Nigeria and in neighboring countries Cameroon and Chad.

Those lucky enough to escape have described being subjected to rape, as well as forced labor and marriage.

Some are believed to have been sold into prostitution and transferred to Middle East countries.

mm/jil (AFP, epd, Reuters, local media)

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