Presented By

Plight of Nigeria’s Missing Girls Sparks Global Outrage

Three weeks after the Islamist militant group Boko Haram abducted more than 200 schoolgirls from a school in Nigeria’s remote northeast, the group was reported to have struck again, storming a village near one of its strongholds on May 5 and kidnapping eight more young girls.

The kidnappings turned a spotlight on Boko Haram’s campaign of terror in northern Nigeria, where it wants to establish an Islamic state. On the day of the second set of abductions, suspected Boko Haram militants struck a town near Nigeria’s border with Cameroon, killing at least 125 people in a 12-hour rampage during which they torched houses and shot locals.

The abductions exposed flaws in the Nigerian government’s handling of the security situation. Soon after the mass kidnapping on April 14, the military claimed that it had rescued nearly all the girls, but that was swiftly revealed to be untrue. Most of the girls were still missing as of May 7, and the group–whose name roughly translates as “Western education is forbidden”–has said it will sell them “on the market.”

The plight of the missing girls brought protesters out on the streets of Abuja, the capital, and Lagos, the country’s largest city, as Nigerians grew impatient with the official response. The abductions also attracted international attention, with demonstrations taking place as far afield as Los Angeles. On social media, users voiced their support for the girls with the hashtag #Bringbackourgirls.

With foreign businesspeople and policymakers visiting Abuja for a World Economic Forum meeting that began on May 7, the attention has been embarrassing for President Goodluck Jonathan. Facing pressure to act, he welcomed an offer from the U.S. to send a team to help with the search, and police have announced a $300,000 reward for information leading to the girls’ rescue. But only time will tell whether the kidnappings will mark a turning point in the government’s response to Boko Haram’s atrocities.



The Pew Research Center posed the question to over 40,000 people in 40 countries. A sampling of how many said no:

[The following text appears within a chart. Please see your hard copy for actual chart.]

80% Ghana

73% Pakistan

22% U.S.

4% Spain

The Explainer

How Polio Became a Global Health Crisis

Two years after being on the brink of eradication, polio has spread to at least 10 countries in Asia, Africa and the Middle East, prompting the World Health Organization to declare a global public-health emergency.


In Pakistan, the nexus of the new outbreak, rumors abound that immunization can cause infertility or worse, and local Taliban groups have obstructed anti-polio workers. The number of cases in the country rose 60% last year.


Last year, polio emerged in Syria for the first time in 15 years; experts blame the ongoing civil war. Other conflict-torn countries, like the Central African Republic, are considered to be at risk.


In an effort to thwart the disease, WHO has recommended that all residents traveling from Pakistan, Syria and Cameroon be vaccinated. Whether that’s enforceable remains to be seen.


World’s Weirdest Heists

Police in France recently found 61 beehives stolen in March from a beekeeper near Lyon. They held some 25,000 bees, estimated to be worth roughly $83,000. Sound crazy? Perhaps–but it’s not the first theft to give people pause.

Maple syrup

Thieves stole 6 million lb. (2.7 million kg), worth roughly $18 million, from a warehouse in Quebec in 2011 and 2012. Police eventually tracked down two-thirds of it.


Bandits made off with 5.5 tons of the chocolate-hazelnut spread last year after robbing a parked trailer in the German town of Bad Hersfeld. The goods were valued at more than $20,000.

Manhole covers

At least 30 were stolen across New York City in two months in 2012, leaving dangerous holes. The loot had an estimated street value of $30 per cover.

Beach sand

About 500 truckloads were taken from the construction site of a $108 million resort on the Jamaican coast.

A bridge

After fooling police with fake work documents, thieves dismantled a 10-ton pedestrian crossing in the Czech Republic in 2012. The stolen scrap metal was valued at roughly $6,000.

‘Born Free’ Generation Stays on the Sidelines


A supporter of the ultra-leftist Economic Freedom Fighters reacts during a rally in Pretoria on May 4. General elections on May 7 were the first in which the “born free” generation–those born after the end of apartheid in 1994–was eligible to vote, but only one-third of the group, a key EFF constituency, registered ahead of the polls. President Jacob Zuma’s ruling African National Congress was widely expected to win.



Approximate cost of 1 g of pot, which will go on sale in licensed pharmacies later this year, according to the government. Last year Uruguay became the first country to legalize the marijuana trade.


‘It’s the worst that I’ve experienced.’

JOHN COATES, vice president of the International Olympic Committee, criticizing Brazil’s preparations for the 2016 Summer Games. According to Coates, crucial construction projects like the Deodoro Olympic Park have been delayed.

Trending In



Helena Costa, named manager of Clermont Foot, became the first woman to lead a French professional soccer club


Researchers in China uncovered crucial intelligence about rock, paper, scissors: statistically, winners are likely to replay the same hand


Thailand faced fresh unrest after a court ordered Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to step down


China temporarily banned imports of British cheese after Chinese inspectors raised concerns about hygiene at an unnamed dairy

This appears in the May 19, 2014 issue of TIME.

More Must-Reads From TIME

Write to Noah Rayman at

You May Also Like