Sunday, May 18: A Day of Prayer and Action for Kidnapped Nigerian Girls

Sunday, May 18: A Day of Prayer and Action for Kidnapped Nigerian Girls

We are all encouraged—both as individuals and as a community of people who believe in faith, hope and love in action—to join in earnest, bold and persistent prayer and action for the desperate families and the government of Nigeria for the safe return of over 200 kidnapped girls.

United Methodist Women calls on people of all faiths to affirm the worth and equal value as human beings all women and men, girls and boys of Africa and around the world, and we speak out against the abduction, abuse or “sale” of any human for any purpose.

On April 14, 2014, Boko Haram, a Nigerian terrorist group, abducted nearly 300 girls from a rural boarding school in Chibok, in northeastern Nigeria. Some of the kidnapped girls are said to be as young as 12.

The 12-year-old elusive group Boko Haram, which stands for “Western education is a sin,” was founded when a charismatic cleric called for his interpretation of a “pure Islamic state” in Nigeria. In Nigeria, the name Boko Haram evokes fear and images of bloodshed. The group has claimed responsibility for kidnappings, assassinations, bombing bridges and government buildings and attacking schools, villages, churches and mosques.

Since the girls’ abduction, parents have avoided speaking to the media and are accused of not cooperating with the police, but this is out of fear that their daughters may be singled out for reprisals. The government, too, is afraid to release details about the investigation for similar reasons.

In a recently released video, Boko Haram is threatening to sell the girls. The May 12 video seeks to exchange the girls for the release of prisoners.

As United Methodist Women members, we add our voices to the growing number who seek the safe return our girls, and we call on the government of Nigeria to rescue all girls before they are lost or further harmed. Much time has passed since their kidnapping April 14, and efforts to rescue and care for these girls must take place now.

Government should protect and enhance the lives of all its citizens. We call on Nigeria and all nations to exemplify good governance through the elimination of all forms of violence against women and girls and the protection of girls’ right to education.

Prayer, which is one of the powerful resources we always have available to us, is a great gift we can give to the kidnapped girls right now. Let us draw on the grace of God for changed hearts and for strength and clarity for government entities able to rescue the girls now and always.

Posted or updated: 5/14/2014 11:00:00 PM

Action Suggestions

  1. Lift up the girls and their families in prayer.
    Pray for a change of heart among the terrorists. Pray for the activists working to rescue the girls and bring greater awareness of the wider extent of this situation in Nigeria.
  2. Support the call by U.N. Women, UNICEF and several UN Special Rapporteurs for swift action
    by the Nigerian government, including protection of girls’ and boys’ education in Nigeria. Send letters of concern to U.N. Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, UN Women, 405 East 42nd Street, New York, NY 10017 or e-mail care of: nanette.braun@unwomen.org.  Let them know you are a United Methodist Women member and ask the U.N. to keep up concerted action that is responsive to the criminal acts and not supportive of international military interventions.
  3. Call on the U.S. government to continue to advocate with Nigeria and other nations
    to protect the human rights of girls without direct or indirect U.S. intervention in Nigeria. Urge the U.S. State Department to monitor the role of U.S. corporations in Nigeria, including Shell Oil, regarding the protection of human rights and national sovereignty. Urge the United States to invest in girls and in sustainable development in Nigeria and throughout Africa through substantive aid for schools, health care and basic infrastructure and by placing human rights over corporate profits and “national interests.”
    Address e-mail and letters to Secretary of State John Kerry, U.S. Department of State, 2201 C Street NW, Washington, DC 20520. Telephone: 202-647-4000.
    Visit www.state.gov/contact to send Secretary Kerry an e-mail.
    Go to usun.state.gov/about/contact to e-mail U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Powers.
  4. Learn more about the context of Nigeria (oil, civil war, divide between North and South and between faiths). Learn about the role of Shell Oil in human rights violations in the oil region and the role of Nigerian women in standing up to Shell in 2003.
  5. Learn about why Boko Haram is gaining momentum in the context of the Nigerian government’s failure to address the widespread poverty, corruption, police abuse, and longstanding impunity for a range of crimes, according to Human Rights Watch.
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