Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 27 May 2019

Former Boko Haram captive tells Dubai audience of escape

Sa’a was one of 276 girls taken from a secondary school in Chibok in 2014 in an act that made headlines across the globe.

A girl who was kidnapped by the Nigerian extremist group Boko Haram has spoken of how she escaped her captors by jumping from a moving vehicle.

Sa’a was one of 276 girls taken from a secondary school in Chibok in 2014 in an act that made headlines across the globe.

She escaped, but almost 200 of her schoolmates are unaccounted for.

Sa’a was speaking to at the Global Education and Skills Forum in Dubai, which was attended by experts and political decision makers from around the world.

Boko Haram believes women should not receive a secular or western-style education.

Sa’a, who is now studying in the United States, said she was lucky to escape by jumping out of a vehicle in the middle of a forest.

“They came to our school dressed in military uniforms, we did not know they were Boko Haram,” she said.

“They wanted us to get in the truck and told us they were going to protect us. But they started shooting.

“It is painful and emotional that 195 of my classmates are still missing after three years. They too had dreams; it is very painful and I miss them a lot.

“The world has to do something. They are human beings, and not people to be forgotten.

“The only thing we can do is share the story with the world. We have to inform the world leaders to do something about it because it is not just about bringing the girls back.

She said the incident “has had a lot of effect on people in northern Nigeria”.

“A lot of children do not go to school [as a result of the kidnappings”.

“I wanted to be a doctor but I now want to be a high-ranking military officer and help my country and my community to be in good hands.”

Seven dozen girls managed to escape in the months that followed. Some returned with babies. Boko Haram released 21 captives in October 2016.

More than 2,000 delegates from 140 nations heard her story at the opening assembly of the forum.

The audience also heard from Sunny Varkey, founder and chairman of Gems Education, the international schools operator based in Dubai.

“Each of the 130 million children born every year are completely innocent. They have not learnt suspicion, hatred or violence. They are lives of endless possibilities – the dividing lines of nation, culture and religion are yet to be imprinted in their minds,” said Mr Varkey.

This generation of young people, “are the first true global citizens,” who are special, born at a special time when technology has put amazing powers in their hands, he said.

“They live in a global playground. We need the collective intelligence and moral leadership of young people from every country, culture and faith to address the world’s problems.”

The forum continues today with talks from Julia Gillard, the former prime minister of Australia and Tariq Al Gurg, chief executive of Dubai Cares.

mmannan@thenational.ae

Updated: March 18, 2017 04:00 AM

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