Pakistani education activist Malala Yousafzai urged Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan on Monday to meet with parents of the schoolgirls kidnapped three months ago by Boko Haram.
Malala was in Abuja on her seventeenth birthday to mark three months since Boko Haram abducted 276 girls from a secondary school in Chibok.
At least 219 of the girls kidnapped on April 14 are still missing.
“I asked the president whether it is possible for him to see the parents of the hostages and girls who have managed to escape and assure them that their daughters will return home,” Malala told journalists after the meeting, adding that Jonathan had agreed to meet some parents.
According to Malala, the parents she met with appeared “hopeless and need the president’s support”.
Jonathan has faced heavy criticism for his handling of the hostage crisis, which many say lacks both compassion and urgency. Furthermore, he is not known to have met with any of the girls’ families until now.
The rescue operation was slow to launch and the military was forced to retract a statement issued days after the kidnapping claiming that all the girls had been freed.
The president had planned to go to Chibok in May to commiserate with the targeted community, but cancelled the visit at the last minute without any explanation.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 15th, 2014.