10 years after Chibok, Nigerian families cope with the trauma of more school kidnappings

2024-04-11 21:44:57

The Columbian

KADUNA, Nigeria (AP) -- His weak body stood in the doorway, exhausted and covered in dirt. For two years, the boy had been among Nigeria's ghosts, one of at least 1,500 schoolchildren and others seized by armed groups and held for ransom.

But paying a ransom didn't work for 12-year-old Treasure, the only captive held back from the more than 100 schoolchildren kidnapped from their school in July 2021 in the northwestern Kaduna state. Instead, his captors hung on, and he had to escape the forests on his own in November.

Treasure's ordeal is part of a worrying new development in Nigeria, Africa's most populous country where the mass abduction of 276 Chibok schoolgirls a decade ago marked a new era of fear -- with nearly 100 of the girls still in captivity. Since the Chibok abductions, at least 1,500 students have been kidnapped, as armed groups increasingly find in them a lucrative way to fund other crimes and control villages in the nation's mineral-rich but poorly policed northwestern region.

The Associated Press spoke with five families whose children have been taken hostage in recent years and witnessed a pattern of trauma and struggle with education among the children. Parents are becoming more reluctant to send their children to school in parts of northern Nigeria, worsening the education crisis in a country of over 200 million where at least 10 million children are out of school -- one of the world's highest rates.

2024-04-11 News