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Ban Ki-moon to support vigils for kidnapped Chibok girls

Ban Ki-moon has repeated his call for the immediate release of the kidnapped schoolgirls of Chibok – 100 days after their abduction.

The United Nations Secretary General has given the vigils taking place tomorrow his full support. The schoolgirls, taken by Boko Haram on April 15th, have now been in captivity for more than three months.

He 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 an education. Only by shielding them from harm and enabling them to realize their full potential can we usher in a better future for all.”

Around the world supporters will light candles and stand in solidarity in Africa, Asia, Europe and the United States.

The ‘Bring Back Our Girls’ group are leading the charge with events organised in the Nigerian capital Abuja.

In New York at 17:30 supporters will assemble outside the Mission of Nigeria 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.

Girls Not Brides are also asking their supporters to stand in solidarity on Wednesday and A World at School’s Global Youth Ambassadors are spearheading the campaign across the world.

A new online petition by A World at School www.aworldatschool.org/100days will also call for the safe return of the girls and all messages of support will be passed to Chibok community leaders and families of the girls.

The petition will also be sent, by UN Special Envoy for Global Education Gordon Brown, to Nigerian 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.

The Safe Schools Initiative – a fund set up to pilot 500 safe schools in northern Nigeria – is a programme that brings the Nigerian Government and Nigerian business leaders together with the international community to ensure that all children are secure when learning. The fund total currently stands at $23million.

Mr Brown, who will start his second term as Education Envoy this month, said:

“We, of course, hope that the Chibok girls will be released earlier. However, by marking the 100th day of the abduction of the girls, kidnapped by Boko Haram terrorists and by pledging never to abandon them, we are reminding people that we are in the midst of a global civil rights struggle.

“Girls’ rights should be taken seriously and they should be at school free of intimidation and violence. We will mark the 100 days by pledging to rebuild their Chibok school and by calling for international support for safe schools across Nigeria.”

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