TIME Nigeria

Hundreds More Girls and Women Rescued From Boko Haram in Nigeria

Nigeria Kidnapped Girls
Nigerian Military/AP In this photo made available by the Nigerian Military taken on April 29, 2015, a Nigerian soldier stands next to women and children that were allegedly rescued by the Nigerian Military after being taken by Islamic extremists in Sambisa Forest, Nigeria.

The total rescued this week is now 677

(YOLA, Nigeria)—Nigeria’s military rescued 234 more girls and women from a Boko Haram forest stronghold in the country’s northeast, an announcement on social media said Saturday.

It brings the number of females declared rescued this week to more than 677.

“FLASH: Another set of 234 women and children were rescued through the Kawuri and Konduga end of the #Sambisa Forest on Thursday,” said a message on the official Twitter account of the Nigerian Defence Headquarters posted early Saturday.

The army has deployed ground troops into Sambisa Forest after weeks of punishing air raids on the area.

“The assault on the forest is continuing from various fronts and efforts are concentrated on rescuing hostages of civilians and destroying all terrorist camps and facilities in the forest,” said Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Chris Olukolade.

Sambisa Forest is the last holdout of the Islamic militants. President Goodluck Jonathan, whose term ends this month, pledged Thursday to “hand over a Nigeria completely free of terrorist strongholds.”

It is not known how many girls, women, boys and men Boko Haram has kidnapped during its nearly 6-year-old rebellion. Nigeria’s army has reported rescuing only females.

The Associated Press has reported that some women shot at their rescuers and were killed, with Boko Haram using them as an armed human shield for its main fighting force.

Most of the females are traumatized, said army spokesman Col. Sani Usman. Nigeria’s military says it has flown in medical and intelligence teams to screen the rescued girls and women and find out their identities.

It is still not known if any are the schoolgirls kidnapped from a boarding school in Chibok town a year ago — a mass kidnapping that outraged much of the world.

A counselor who has helped rehabilitate other women held captive by Boko Haram told the AP that some identify with the insurgents’ extremist ideology after months of captivity and forced marriages. It remains unclear if some of the women had willingly joined Boko Haram, or are family members of fighters.

Boko Haram began kidnapping civilians after Nigeria’s military detained the wives and children of several militant leaders. They were freed amid failed peace negotiations in 2013.

Some of the freed women and girls are pregnant, Muhammad Gavi, a spokesman for a self-defense group that fights Boko Haram, said citing information from group members who have seen the females.

Amnesty International called on authorities “to ensure that the trauma of those ‘rescued’ is not exacerbated by lengthy security screening in detention.”

The Nigerian military Friday released photos of about 20 subdued-looking children and women they said were taken between Tuesday and Thursday in the Sambisa Forest. They look generally healthy but at least one child looks emaciated and some children have the orange-colored hair signaling severe malnutrition.

A young military medic with blue rubber gloves and a surgical mask appears to be checking several children

Boko Haram continues to attack in isolated places. In the neighboring country of Niger, the governor of a province has ordered residents living near Lake Chad to evacuate by Monday when troops will flush the militants from hideouts, said a government official.

A Boko Haram attack on Karamga island in Lake Chad last weekend killed 156 militants, 46 Niger soldiers and 28 civilians, Niger’s government said.

As the insurgency spilled over Nigeria’s borders, a multinational force consisting of Nigeria and its neighbors deployed at the end of January and has retaken towns and villages where Boko Haram had declared an Islamic caliphate. Nigeria’s military, which had largely failed to curb the rebellion, has been reinvigorated by new weapons including helicopter gunships.

TIME Nigeria

More Women and Children Freed in Nigeria From Boko Haram

Nigerian Soldiers man a check point in Gwoza, Nigeria, a town newly liberated from Boko Haram, on April 8, 2015.
Lekan Oyekanmi—AP Nigerian soldiers man a check point in Gwoza, Nigeria, a town newly liberated from Boko Haram on April 8, 2015.

It's unclear if "the Chibok girls" were among those freed

(MAIDUGURI, Nigeria) — A day after the Nigerian army celebrated the rescue of 200 girls and 93 women in the forest stronghold of Boko Haram, the army’s spokesman said more women and children believed to have been abducted by the Islamic extremists were rescued as firefights broke out there.

Several lives were lost including that of a soldier and a woman during shootouts in nine separate extremist camps in the Sambisa Forest, according to a statement late Wednesday from Col. Sani Usman. He said eight women sustained gunshot wounds and four soldiers were seriously injured.

Some of the females who were freed earlier have been so transformed by their captivity that they opened fire on their rescuers, authorities have said. A veteran counselor said Wednesday they would need intensive psychological treatment.

The army spokesman said several Boko Haram field commanders and foot soldiers were killed and combat tanks and munitions of high caliber used by Boko Haram were recovered while others were destroyed.

“The troops have also rescued additional women and children,” the statement said, without saying how many were rescued. “They have been evacuated to a safety zone for further processing.”

The military was flying in medical and intelligence teams to evaluate the former captives, many of whom were severely traumatized, Usman said earlier.

It remained unclear if any of the schoolgirls kidnapped from the northeastern town of Chibok a year ago were to be among the 200 girls and 93 women whose rescue was announced on Tuesday.

The plight of the schoolgirls, who have become known as “the Chibok girls,” aroused international outrage and a campaign for their release under the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls. Their kidnapping brought Boko Haram, whose nickname means “Western education is forbidden” in the local Hausa language, to the world’s attention. Of the Chibok girls, 219 remain missing.

Nigerian military and counter-insurgency spokesmen have said they have information indicating at least some of the Chibok girls still are being held in the Sambisa Forest.A counselor who has treated other women freed from Boko Haram captivity said some had become indoctrinated into believing the group’s Islamic extremist ideology, while others had established strong emotional attachments to militants they had been forced to marry.

Some of the about 90 women and girls freed by the army four months ago in Yobe state, for example, had upset their community on their return by maintaining that the militants were good people who had treated them well, said the counselor, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because he has been targeted by the militants in the past.

“The trauma suffered by the (abducted) women and girls is truly horrific,” said Amnesty International’s Africa director for research and advocacy, Netsanet Belay. “Some have been repeatedly raped, sold into sexual slavery or indoctrinated and even forced to fight for Boko Haram.”

Amnesty International said earlier this month that at least 2,000 women and girls have been taken by Boko Haram since the start of 2014.

TIME Nigeria

Nigeria Hails the Freeing of 200 Women and Children but Regrets Continued Captivity of Chibok Girls

Former French first lady Valerie Trierweiler (3rdL) attends a gathering "Bring Back Our Girls" near the Eiffel Tower in Paris on April 14, 2015 to mark one year since more than 200 schoolgirls were kidnapped in Chibok, north-eastern Nigeria, by Nigerian Islamist rebel group Boko Haram.
Gonzalo Fuentes—Reuters Former French first lady Valerie Trierweiler attends a gathering "Bring Back Our Girls" near the Eiffel Tower in Paris on April 14, 2015 to mark one year since more than 200 schoolgirls were kidnapped in Chibok, north-eastern Nigeria, by Nigerian Islamist rebel group Boko Haram.

When a Nigerian military spokesman claimed on Tuesday to have rescued some 200 women and girls held captive by members of the Boko Haram, hopes soared that they might be the schoolgirls kidnapped a year ago from a dormitory that put the name of their small town, Chibok, in the global spotlight.

The kidnapping, which took place on April 14, 2014, spurred an international twitter campaign to #BringBackOurGirls, and saw a dedicated band of Nigerian mothers, students, activists and civil society members holding daily vigils in the capital, Abuja, and weekly protests elsewhere in the country.

More than 2,000 women and children from Northeastern Nigeria have been kidnapped by Boko Haram in the past 17 months, but the plight of the schoolgirls, who were kidnapped in one raid and seemed to have been targeted because they were seeking education, garnered the world’s sympathy. The founder of the Bring Back our Girls movement, former World Bank Vice President for Africa and former Nigerian Education Minister Obiageli Ezekwesili was relentless in her campaign to make sure the Chibok girls were not forgotten, and brought in international celebrities from Madonna to U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousufzai to promote the cause.

So fervent is the desire to see the girls back and alive, the disappointment that the 200 rescued women were not from Chibok was profound. “Alas it certainly seems they are not Chibok Girls and that is profoundly heart breaking,” Ezekwesili wrote TIME in an email. “Yet, that these girls and women who were also captives of those savages (for God knows how long) can now breathe the air of freedom is certainly victory.”

When the girls were first kidnapped, it took nearly two weeks for the government of President Goodluck Jonathan to respond, and even longer to launch a military effort to take on Boko Haram and track down the students. When the Nigerian military attacked the group, they were often defeated. In many cases soldiers simply abandoned their posts, largely due to inadequate weapons and fears that they would not receive additional air support if they did decide to engage. The failure of a hollowed-out military that had once been the pride of Nigeria and one of the most respected forces in Africa prompted national soul-searching, and may have lead, in part, to the electoral defeat of Jonathan in elections last month. While military spokesmen have claimed credit for the rescue and a spate of military defeats that forced Boko Haram into taking refuge in the dense Sambisa forest, the gains could not have been achieved without the support of an international coalition made up of militaries from neighbors Chad, Cameroon and Niger.

The incoming president, Muhammadu Buhari, has pledged to rebuild the army, but it will take years to recover from a decade of neglect and endemic corruption.

Despite the hopes and efforts of activists like Ezekwesili, the likelihood of finding all the Chibok girls is slim. In several videos posted to YouTube, Boko Haram founder Abubakar Shekau boasted that the girls, many of whom were Christian, had either converted to Islam and been married off, or refused to convert and sold as slaves. According to Amnesty International, Boko Haram fighters, fleeing the advancing Nigerian army, have in some instances slaughtered their own wives rather than let them be captured by “infidels,” a fate that could have befallen some of the Chibok girls. Amnesty also suggests that others might have perished due to the rigors of captivity, and, if the fate of several other Boko Haram escapees is a guide, they might have been used as sex slaves or forced to fight.

Boko Haram has also used young women in suicide attacks, though it is not clear that any of the bombers came from Chibok. Nonetheless, the efforts to rescue the Chibok girls, and all other Boko Haram abductees must continue, says Ezekwesili. The rescue of the 200 girls on Tuesday makes it clear. “We can seize on their rescue to add more pressure on our Government to SPARE NO EFFORT in finding our #ChibokGirls and all other abductees.”

As for the Chibok girls, it is yet another reminder that the world is unlikely to forget them, and the fact that neither the Nigerian military, nor an international Twitter campaign, has been able to find them.

TIME Nigeria

200 Girls Rescued From Boko Haram Camps Are Not the Chibok Schoolgirls

Former French first lady Valerie Trierweiler (3rdL) attends a gathering "Bring Back Our Girls" near the Eiffel Tower in Paris on April 14, 2015 to mark one year since more than 200 schoolgirls were kidnapped in Chibok, north-eastern Nigeria, by Nigerian Islamist rebel group Boko Haram.
Gonzalo Fuentes—Reuters Former French first lady Valerie Trierweiler attends a gathering "Bring Back Our Girls" near the Eiffel Tower in Paris on April 14, 2015 to mark one year since more than 200 schoolgirls were kidnapped in Chibok, north-eastern Nigeria, by Nigerian Islamist rebel group Boko Haram.

Many had hoped the rescued girls were the same ones kidnapped a year ago from a Chibok school

—The Nigerian army said that the hundreds of women and girls rescued from camps run by Islamist group Boko Haram Tuesday are not the same ones who were kidnapped from a Chibok school last April.

After Nigerian forces rescued 200 girls and 93 women from the Boko-Haram occupied Sambisa forest, many hoped missing Chibok schoolgirls whose abduction inspired the global campaign to ‘Bring Back Our Girls’ would be among them. The campaign’s founder, Obiageli Ezekwesili, said it was “heartbreaking” that the Chibok girls were not found, but added that any rescue is good news. “That these girls and women who were also captives of those savages (for God knows how long) can now breathe the air of freedom is certainly victory,” she told TIME. “We can seize on their rescue to add more pressure on our Government to spare no effort in finding our #ChibokGirls and all other abductees.”

Shortly after the rescue, an army spokesman announced that the rescued girls were other captives of Boko Haram, not the Chibok schoolgirls. Approximately 2,000 women and girls have been kidnapped by Boko Haram since the beginning of the year, according to Amnesty International.

According to testimony from escaped captives, girls and women abducted by Boko Haram are often raped, forced into marriage, or sold into sexual slavery. Sometimes they’re forced to become soldiers and attack their own villages. Some have despaired of finding the Chibok girls together, since Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau promised to “sell them on the market” shortly after they were abducted last year.

Ezekwesili gave a speech at last week’s TIME 100 gala urging the world not to forget the plight of the Chibok girls:

TIME indonesia

Indonesian Media Says 8 Foreign Drug Smugglers Executed

PHILIPPINES-INDONESIA-CRIME-DRUGS-EXECUTION
Ted Aljibe—AFP/Getty Images Activists hold candles and placards with portraits of Mary Jane Veloso in front of the Indonesian embassy in Manila, Philippines on April 28, 2015.

President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo rejected clemency appeals

Eight drug convicts, all foreigners, were reportedly executed by firing squad in Indonesia on Wednesday, after President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo rejected pleas from foreign governments and thousands of his own citizens to halt the executions.

The inmates, four Nigerians, two Australians, one Brazilian and one Indonesian, were killed on the Nusakambangan prison island early Wednesday, the Jakarta Post reports. But another condemned prisoner, Filipina domestic helper Mary Jane Veloso, was spared at least temporarily after new evidence came to light confirming her claim she was tricked into smuggling drugs.

The executed inmates included Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, Australians who were part of the Bali Nine drug-smuggling group. Their former lawyer, Mohammad Irfan, has alleged to the Sydney Morning Herald that judges asked for more than $77,000 in bribes to give the pair a lighter sentence, and he also accuses Jakarta of political interference — once again putting a spotlight on Indonesia’s judicial system, which is largely seen as corrupt.

A Frenchman, Serge Atlaoui, was earlier given a temporary reprieve pending a legal appeal, which was granted after French President François Hollande warned: “If he is executed, there will be consequences with France and Europe.”

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Nobel Peace Prize laureate (and former East Timorese President) José Ramos-Horta, boxing champion Manny Pacquiao, British tycoon and adventurer Richard Branson and iconic hard-rock guitarist Tony Iommi were among the chorus of foreign leaders, fellow celebrities, local and overseas activists and ordinary people asking that the convicts’ lives be spared.

Families of the condemned came to Nusakambangan to spend the last hours with their loved ones, as police and military stepped up security there and in Cilacap. Chan, who was ordained as minister in the decade he spent at a Bali prison, asked to go to church with his family during his last days, said his brother Michael. As his last wish, Sukumaran, who began painting while incarcerated in Bali, has asked “to paint as long and as much as possible,” his brother Chinthu said. One of his latest self-portraits shown to journalists depicts a harrowing image of the artist shot through the heart.

Read next: Inside Indonesia’s Islamic Boarding School for Transgender People

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME indonesia

The Execution of Several Foreigners in Indonesia Appears Imminent

President Joko Widodo has said he will not interfere

Correction appended, April 24

In a sign that it may be preparing to put 10 mostly foreign drug offenders to death, Indonesia has asked foreign diplomats to travel Saturday to visit the maximum-security prison on the island of Nusakambangan where the inmates are being held.

According to Reuters, the legally required 72-hour notice has not been announced but a diplomat the news agency spoke with on condition of anonymity said, “We still don’t know when the actual date of the execution will happen but we expect that it will be in days.”

On Tuesday, through the state-owned news agency Antara, Indonesian President Joko Widodo said the executions were “only awaiting the conclusion of all procedures and the legal process, which I will not interfere in. It is only a matter of time.”

The condemned include Australian, Brazilian, French and Nigerian nationals, as well as a Filipina maid named Mary Jane Veloso who has sparked a social-media campaign for clemency.

Also set to be executed are the two Australian ringleaders of the Bali Nine drug-smuggling group, Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran. Repeated appeals to spare their lives have been made by the Australian government and the case has created tensions between the two countries. France also blasted the Indonesian legal system on Thursday.

According to David McRae, a senior research fellow at the Asia Institute in the University of Melbourne, who wrote an analysis paper on the subject in 2012, Jakarta is torn between domestic and international considerations. “One [stream of thought] relishes the opportunity for the government to present itself as firm in the face of international pressure,” he tells TIME. “But I think there are others who are concerned at the prospect of Indonesia’s relations with various of its important international partners becoming mired in needless rancor.”

Indonesia has severe punishments for drug offenses and has once again started implementing the death penalty after a five-year stoppage.

[Reuters]

Correction: The original version of this story incorrectly described the drug offenders. Nine are foreigners and one is Indonesian.

TIME Nigeria

Inside the Search for the Chibok Schoolgirls Abducted by Boko Haram

After more than a year the Nigerian army could be closing in on the forest where the schoolgirls are believed to be held

Nigerian activist and “Bring Back Our Girls” co-founder Obiageli Ezekwesili left a room full of the most influential people in the world speechless this week, in an emotional speech saying they could not possibly move on while 219 schoolgirls were still crying to be rescued. It has been just over a year since Boko Haram abducted 276 schoolgirls in Chibok, in northern Nigeria, and while 57 have escaped, not one of them has done so because of military efforts.

Speaking at Tuesday’s TIME 100 Gala in New York City, Ezekwesili, a former Federal Minister of Education of Nigeria and Vice President of the the African division of the World Bank, took the opportunity to continue her work canvassing for the rescue of the Chibok girls. She called upon President Barack Obama to push for action, saying: “If he could get Osama bin Laden, he could get our girls.”

In the last year there has been much talk about the girls but little success. Below is the story of the search so far. The girls are being held, it is believed, in dense forest in the northeast of Nigeria. Nigerian forces entered the forest in the last week supported by intelligence and surveillance provided by U.S. and other Western states.

April 14-15, 2014 : Boko Haram fighters break into the Government Secondary School in the predominantly Christian town of Chibok in Borno State. They kidnap 276 schoolgirls: several of them jump off trucks carrying them away from the school.

April 23: Nigerian lawyer Ibrahim M. Abdullahi is the first to use the #BringBackOurGirls hashtag in a tweet during a UNESCO address given by Ezekwesili, who goes on to lead the Bring Back Our Girls campaign.

April 30: The #BringBackOurGirls hashtag gains traction, trending in Nigeria with over 100,000 mentions in a single day. It spreads internationally, attracting support from celebrities and prominent public figures, including Pakistani education activist Malala Yousafzai, American actress and comedian Amy Poehler, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and singer Mary J Blige.

May 2: By now, more than 50 of the schoolgirls have escaped in separate groups.

May 4: Nearly three weeks after the kidnapping and after much criticism over his silence, President Goodluck Jonathan makes his first public statement on national television acknowledging what happened and vows to find the girls.

May 5: Abubakar Shekau, Boko Haram’s leader, releases a video claiming responsibility for the abduction and promises to sell the girls as slaves.

May 7: Just after #BringBackOurGirls reaches 1 million tweets, U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama tweets a photo of herself with a sign reading #BringBackOurGirls. Four days later, she delivers the presidential address rather than her husband, saying they are both “outraged and heartbroken” about the abduction.

Early May onwards: Teams of military advisors, negotiators and counsellors from the U.S., U.K. and France start providing help with the search efforts. China, Israel, Canada, Iran, and the E.U. all pledge assistance too.

The U.S. has at least 26 officials specifically tasked to the Boko Haram abduction, including three FBI officials and at least 16 military personnel. The U.K. deployed Sentinel and Tornado GR4 aircraft with surveillance capabilities to help in the search, and it continues to provide commercial satellite imagery to the Intelligence Fusion Cell in Abuja, where UK personnel are working alongside Nigerian, US and French colleagues. Ned Price, the Assistant Press Secretary of the National Security Council, says on Thursday: “The U.S. Government has maintained an interdisciplinary team in Abuja consisting of specialists on temporary assignment and personnel assigned to our Embassy in Abuja. Given the regional component to Boko Haram, there are also individuals in other locations including U.S. Embassies in neighboring countries that are part of this effort.”

Nigeria turns off cell phone coverage in the North East area where Boko Haram are operating making it more difficult for militants to coordinate attacks, according to sources. However, it also makes intelligence gathering from phone calls impossible. The Nigerian military strategy also focuses on forcing Boko Haram out of urban areas into forests, further hindering intelligence gathering.

Later that summer, Nigeria requests to purchase American Cobra helicopters for the search but the U.S. declines as Nigeria does not have the infrastructure in place to fly and maintain a fleet of Cobras, which would take several years to develop.

May 12: Boko Haram releases a new video appearing to show about 100 of the missing girls. They boast the girls have converted to Islam and refuse to release them unless the government releases Boko Haram militants from prison.

May 22: The U.S. deploys 80 troops and an unmanned aerial vehicle to Chad to help regional efforts to rescue the schoolgirls.

May 26: Chief of Defense Staff Alex Badeh, Nigeria’s highest ranking military officer, says the army has located the girls but refuses to give any details of their whereabouts, causing doubts about the veracity of the reports. He says the army would not make an attempt to rescue them by force: “We can’t kill our girls in the name of trying to get them back.”

May 27: Reports emerge that Nigeria’s former president Olusegun Obasanjo has met with people close to Boko Haram to broker a deal to release the girls.

July 15: Nigerian police say they arrested Zakaria Mohammed, a high-level Boko Haram member, who was fleeing military operations around the Balmo Forest. It is not clear if he provided any information on the whereabouts of the schoolgirls.

October 17: The Nigerian army announces a ceasefire deal between government forces and Boko Haram, following negotiations mediated in Saudi Arabia by Chadian President Idriss Déby and Cameroonian officials. The announcement raises hopes that the remaining girls might be released, but Mike Omeri, Nigeria’s chief security spokesman, says no deal is in place.

2015

February: After being awarded scholarships, 21 of the Chibok girls who managed to escape are now studying at the American University of Nigeria, in Yola, the capital of neighboring Adamawa state.

March 6: Work begins to rebuild the girls’ school in Chibok, which has been closed since they were abducted.

March 19: Nigeria’s army chief Lieutenant General Kenneth Minimah admits there is “no news for now” about the girls’ fate, despite military successes in recapturing towns held by Boko Haram.

March 25: A 56-year-old woman abducted by Boko Haram in July 2014 is released after 8 months. She tells the International Centre for Investigative Reporting in Nigeria that she was being held in the same house as the Chibok girls in the town of Gwoza in Borno State, under 24-hour-security by armed guards – although she never actually saw the girls herself.

March 27: The town of Gwoza is recaptured by the Nigerian army but, despite earlier reports suggesting otherwise, the kidnapped girls are not found.

April 18: President-elect Muhammadu Buhari, who will take office on May 29, writes in the Times that his government will do everything in its power to bring the girls home, but says his administration will begin with a honest assessment as to whether the Chibok girls can be rescued: “Currently their whereabouts remain unknown. We do not know the state of their health or welfare, or whether they are even still together or alive. As much as I wish to, I cannot promise that we can find them.”

April 19: Nigerian ground troops move into the Sambisa forest hoping to find and rescue the Chibok girls after sustained air strikes carried out by the Nigerian Air Force over the past eight weeks.

April 21: Obiageli Ezekwesili tells the Time 100 Gala “If he (President Obama) could get Osama bin Laden, he could get our girls.”

Additional reporting by Aryn Baker and Maya Rhodan

Read next: Boko Haram has fled but no one knows the fate of the Chibok girls one year on

TIME TIME 100 Gala

Watch the Bring Back Our Girls Founder’s Emotional Speech: ‘You Can’t Move On’

"Whatever we choose to do, we can accomplish. Let’s choose to bring our girls back"

“Bring Back Our Girls” co-founder Obiageli Ezekwesili lamented Tuesday night that hundreds of Nigerian schoolgirls abducted by Islamist group Boko Haram last year are still missing, during an emotional speech at the TIME 100 gala.

“How can we be in a world where technology can find you in your bedroom and today we have nothing on the matter of our 219 girls?” the TIME 100 honoree said in remarks that brought some attendees to tears.

“There’s absolutely nothing that the God I believe in cannot do,” she said. “But the same God has given man and woman the power of choice. Whatever we choose to do, we can accomplish. Let’s choose to bring our girls back, please?”

Earlier in the night she called on President Obama to do more to help find the girls.

“If he could get Osama bin Laden, he could get our girls,” she told TIME.

Watch her entire TIME 100 gala speech below.

TIME Nigeria

Read Malala Yousafzai’s Letter to ‘Brave Sisters’ Abducted by Boko Haram

Malala Yousafzai Wins Nobel Peace Prize
Christopher Furlong—Getty Images Malala Yousafzai holds a bouquet of flowers during after being announced as a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, on October 10, 2014 in Birmingham, England.

"To my brave sisters, the kidnapped schoolgirls of Chibok," she wrote

Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai wrote an open letter to the 219 Nigerian schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram militants, one year after the girls were seized from a boarding school in the rural northeastern town of Chibok.

“On this first anniversary of your captivity, I write to you with a message of solidarity, love and hope,” the young Pakistani activist wrote in a letter posted to Medium, which she also read aloud in a SoundCloud audio recording.

Yousafzai described her own meetings with Nigerian officials, in which she urged Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan to secure their release. “I am among many people pressuring them to make sure you are freed,” she wrote.

She also described emotional encounters with grieving parents and survivors of the attack. “Last July, I spent my 17th birthday in Nigeria with some of your parents and five of your classmates who escaped the kidnapping. Your parents are grief-stricken. They love you, and they miss you,” she wrote.

She added that girls who had escaped the attack received full scholarships through the Malala Fund to complete their secondary school studies. “We hope to someday extend that same scholarship to all 219 of you, when you return home,” Yousafzai wrote.

Read the full letter at Medium.

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: April 14

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. Have the missing Nigerian schoolgirls been trained to fight?

By Amnesty International

2. Why more roads means more traffic, not less.

By Matthew Beck and Michiel Bliemer in the Conversation

3. Let’s face it. There’s no perfect deal to be made with Iran.

By Pierre Atlas in the Indianapolis Star

4. Does more spending guarantee a better military?

By Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry in the Week

5. What if we could detect some types of cancer with a simple breath test?

By Smitha Mundasad at the BBC

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

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