• Malala Yousafzai pens open letter pleading for 200 kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls to be returned to their families (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
On the second anniversary of the schoolchildren's kidnapping, the 18-year-old Nobel Prize winner told parents, “I think of you every day and join millions of people around the world in praying for the safety and swift return of your girls.”
Bianca Soldani

14 Apr 2016 - 9:49 AM  UPDATED 14 Apr 2016 - 9:54 AM

Two years on from the kidnapping of 219 schoolgirls by Islamist group Boko Haram, Malala Yousafzai is leading renewed pleas for action.

As she did on the first anniversary of their abduction from Chibok in Nigeria’s northeast, the Nobel Peace Prize recipient has penned an open letter to the children's mothers and fathers.

“I write this letter with a heavy heart, knowing you have endured another year separated from your daughters,” she begins. “I think of you every day since we first met two years ago – and join millions of people around the world in praying for the safety and swift return of your girls.”

Turning her attention to the government she continues, “As I did last year, I call on President Buhari of Nigeria – and everyone who can help rescue the Chibok girls – to act now.

“Would a president give up the fight for his own daughter? These girls are just as precious to their families.”

The only information relatives of the girls have received has been in the form of largely unconfirmed photos and videos released by the militant group.

The latest of which surfaced in the last 24 hours and appears to show 15 of the girls dressed in dark robes in a video believed to have been filmed at the end of last year.

At gunpoint, the girls were taken from the dormitory beds of their Government Secondary School at night before the establishment was razed to the ground. Only a handful managed to escape.

At the time of their kidnapping, much global attention was focused on finding them with America’s first lady Michelle Obama playing an influential role in promoting the #bringbackourgirls campaign, however none of the captured students have been freed.

A fierce campaigner for the education of women, Malala ends her letter with a message of praise and hope.
“Parents, thank you for having the courage to send your daughters to school. My dream is that one day they will come home, finish their education and choose their futures for themselves.

“I pray for the day when you can embrace your girls again.”

According to a 2015 Amnesty International report, thousands of women and girls have been abducted by Boko Haram in recent years and are being forced into fighting or sexual slavery.

Nigeria's government was initially criticised for their response to the kidnapping, however in January President Buhari ordered a new investigation and said in a statement, “I assure you that I go to bed and wake up every day with the Chibok girls on my mind”.