The United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon, on Wednesday joined the global community to restate his calls for the rescue of the over 200 abducted Chibok schoolgirls held captive by Boko Haram for over 100 days.
Ki-Moon in a statement issued in New York and emailed to the BringBackOurGirls group in Abuja on Wednesday, expressed full support for the vigils taking place on Thursday (today) across many countries for the release of the girls.
The National Coordinator of the BBOG in Abuja, Oby Ezekwesili, who read the statement to the coalition members, appreciated the support of the UN scribe for the campaign to free the Chibok girls.
The former Education minister expressed happiness over the meeting President Goodluck Jonathan had with the escaped girls and Chibok parents, saying the parley would reinforce the search for the girls and also lend a strong voice to the campaign for their freedom.
The UN Secretary General in his statement said, “I stand in solidarity with all those taking part in vigils today to demonstrate that the world has not forgotten the girls who were so cruelly abducted from their school 100 days ago in Chibok, Nigeria.
“I repeat my call for their immediate release and for an end to discrimination, intimidation and violence against girls whose only wish is to gain education. Only by shielding them from harm and enabling them to realise their full potential can we usher in a better future for all.”
Around the world, supporters are expected to light candles and stand in solidarity in Africa, Asia, Europe and the United States.
In New York, supporters would assemble outside the Nigeria Mission to the UN and walk to the UN.
Vigils are also scheduled to take place in Lahore, Lome, Togo, Dhaka, Jaipur, Bradford, Pedroucos and Illinois.
Groups including The Global March Against Child Labour in Africa, Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi in Pakistan and Bachpan Bachao Andolan in India are marking the 100 days by holding vigils, according to Ki-Moon.
The UN scribe said that ‘Girls Not Brides’ were also asking their supporters to stand in solidarity and ‘A World at School’s Global Youth Ambassadors’ was spearheading the campaign across the world.
The ‘BringBackOurGirls’ group is leading the charge in Abuja with its daily sit-outs.
Ki-Moon said that a new online petition by ‘A World at School’ www.aworldatschool.org/100days <http://www.aworldatschool.org/100days> would also call for the safe return of the girls and all messages of support would be passed to Chibok community leaders and families of the girls.
The petition, will also be sent by the UN Special Envoy for Global Education, Gordon Brown, to President Goodluck Jonathan and Ban Ki-moon.
The Chibok Girls’ families are also expected to sign the petition and offer their full support for the Safe Schools Initiative, a fund set up to pilot 500 safe schools in northern Nigeria. The fund total currently stands at $23m.
The United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education and former Prime Minister of Britain, Gordon Brown, has said despite the fact that 100 days has passed since the abduction of more than 200 schoolgirls in Chibok, the world will not forget them.
He also appealed to people around the world to show public support for the families and girls’ education.