United Nations, 8 May-2014, PTI: Top United Nations officials have expressed deep concern about the fate of the 230 girls violently abducted from their school by Boko Haram militants in Nigeria and deplored claims made by the group that it plans to sell them in the market and marry them off.
The UN human rights office lashed out at the militant group for referring to the girls as “slaves” and warned the perpetrators that there is an absolute prohibition against slavery and sexual slavery in international law. “These can, under certain circumstances, constitute crimes against humanity. We are deeply concerned about the outrageous claims made in a video believed to be by the leader of Boko Haram in Nigeria,” spokesman for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights Rupert Colville said. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay had condemned the violent abduction of the girls, believed to be between 15 and 18 years old, seized at gunpoint on April 14 after Boko Haram militants stormed a school in the north-eastern town of Chibok. “The girls must be immediately returned, unharmed, to their families,” her spokesperson said. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s top envoy on children and armed conflict Leila Zerrougui also expressed deep concern about the fate of the 230 girls and deplored the group’s abduction of several more girls yesterday. “I am appalled by these attacks and I am in solidarity with the victims and their families in this tragedy. I strongly condemn the statement by video of the supposed leader of Boko Haram, which claimed that the abducted girls be sold, possibly for forced marriages,” Zerrougui said in a statement. Zerrougui said she and the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict Zainab Hawa Bangura, Executive Director of UN Women Phumzile Mlambo-Nqcuka and Pillay had contacted the Nigerian Government to urge it to redouble efforts to secure the release of these girls.