Damasak kidnappings: 400 women, children still missing 1 year later

It’s unclear whether the Nigerian government has made any serious efforts to find the group.

FILE: Nigerian army destroy Boko Haram terrorists camps in Alagarno and Sambas forests. Picture: Colonel Sani Kukasheka Usman/Nigerian army public relations

JOHANNESBURG - NGO Human Rights Watch has urged the Nigerian government to review its efforts in the search for over 400 women and children kidnapped by Boko Haram from the town Damasak last year.

The group with at least 300 pupils, were taken during a cross-border military operation against the insurgents in March 2015.

Human Rights Watch has recorded the event as the largest school abduction after 276 girls from a government secondary school were taken two years earlier.

The organisation says it is unclear whether the Nigerian government has made any serious effort to secure their release.

Spokesperson Mausie Segan says, "Three-hundred children have been missing for a year, and yet there has been not a word from the Nigerian government. The authorities need to wake up and find out where the Damasak children and other captives are and take urgent steps to free them."

Some parents have reportedly received information from Nigerian refugees in Chad that their children were seen with Boko Haram in Mari and Dogon Chikum, near the Nigerian border with Chad, though Human Rights Watch could not independently confirm this information.

Segun adds, "Whatever its grievances against the Nigerian government, Boko Haram cannot justify the abduction of young children. Boko Haram leaders should immediately release everyone the group has abducted, cease all attacks on civilians, and stop using schools in support of its military efforts."