Calls for Nigeria to establish how many missing Chibok girls still alive

Islamist fighters from Nigeria’s Boko Haram group have abducted more than 1,000 children in the northeast since 2013, Unicef said.

Picture: Supplied

JOHANNESBURG - Nigeria is facing calls to establish how many of the missing Chibok schoolgirls are still alive, after claims that nearly 100 of them may have lost their lives in captivity.

Parents of the missing girls and supporters gathered in the small town in remote northeast Nigeria on Saturday to mark the fourth anniversary of the kidnapping that sparked world outrage.

But soon after the end of their vigil and prayers, a Nigerian journalist who has been involved in negotiations with the Islamist group said only a “handful” of the girls survive.

The Nigerian government has neither confirmed nor denied the claim.

Islamist fighters from Nigeria’s Boko Haram group have abducted more than 1,000 children in the northeast since 2013, Unicef said.

The militants regularly took youngsters to spread fear and show power, the agency said on the eve of the fourth anniversary of the abduction of 276 schoolgirls from the town of Chibok, a case that triggered global outrage.

“Children in north-eastern Nigeria continue to come under attack on a shocking scale,” said Mohamed Malick Fall, Unicef’s Nigeria head.

The agency said it had documented more than 1,000 verified cases, the first time it had published an estimated tally. But the actual number could be much larger, it added.

Additional reporting by Reuters.