11 Parents of the Nigerian Schoolgirls Kidnapped by Boko Haram Have Died Since Abduction

The Slatest
Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
July 22 2014 7:13 PM

11 Parents of the Nigerian Schoolgirls Kidnapped by Boko Haram Have Died Since Abduction

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A mother of one of the missing schoolgirls.

Photo by PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP/Getty Images

The abduction of more than 200 girls from the northeast Nigerian town of Chibok has understandably taken an immense toll on the community, and particularly the families, involved. However, the Associated Press has a report that shows the impact on the families of the girls has been particularly severe. Startlingly, 11 parents of the schoolgirls have died in the three months since their abduction. Chibok has been cut off from government control by Boko Haram, which has staged repeated attacks that show no sign of abating.

Seven fathers of kidnapped girls were among 51 bodies brought to the Chibok hospital after an attack on the nearby village of Kautakari this month, said a health worker who insisted on anonymity for fear of reprisals by the extremists. At least four more parents have died of heart failure, high blood pressure and other illnesses that the community blames on trauma due to the mass abduction 100 days ago, said community leader Pogu Bitrus, who provided their names. "One father of two of the girls kidnapped just went into a kind of coma and kept repeating the names of his daughters, until life left him," said Bitrus.
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Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan met with the parents of the kidnapped schoolgirls and some of girls that managed to escape on Tuesday. Jonathan, and the Nigerian government, have faced intense criticism for their handling of the mass abduction. “Mr. Jonathan said the government wanted to avoid a rescue effort that could lead to the girls being killed,” the BBC reports. “The US, UK, France, China and Israel have been helping in operations to secure the release of the girls, who are believed to be held in the Sambisa forest, near Nigeria's border with Cameroon.”

Elliot Hannon is a writer in Washington, D.C. Follow him on Twitter.