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Machel breaks Madiba mourning restrictions for kidnapped Nigerian girls

Sapa, Sapa-AP

Graca Machel says she has broken the restrictions of her mourning for Nelson Mandela to plead with the world to find 276 girls kidnapped in April.

Graca Machel and former president Nelson Mandela. (Gallo)

Graca Machel broke the restrictions of her mourning for her husband, former president Nelson Mandela, to plead with the Nigerian government and world to find the 276 schoolgirls kidnapped in that country.

“I decided to break the restrictions of my mourning because silence is not an option. I know, however, that Madiba will understand and approve,” she wrote in a letter published in the Sunday Independent. “We demand alongside you, the parents, that the Nigerian government do everything in its power to locate all the girls, make sure they are safe, and bring them back home,” she wrote, addressing the parents. 

“If the world can mobilise all the means possible to search for a plane carrying 239 passengers, certainly it can also mobilise the means to find our girls.” She was referring to Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 that disappeared en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8. To the girls, she said: “We pray for them and look forward to the day when they will embrace their parents and families at home.” Nigerian militant group Boko Haram kidnapped 276 schoolgirls in the town of Chibook on April 14, and eight more girls from Warabe on May 5.

Meanwhile, a leading Nigerian rights group is urging the UN Security Council to impose sanctions on the Islamic extremists that abducted some 300 schoolgirls, saying concern and condemnation are not enough.

A statement on Sunday from the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project says it is time for the council to “act decisively” and that the cost of inaction is “too high to contemplate.” It comes as more experts are expected in Nigeria to help in the search, including US hostage negotiators. 

Nigeria’s government belatedly accepted offers of help last week from the United States, Britain, France, China and Spain amid mounting national and international outrage at its failure to rescue 276 girls abducted from a northeastern school on April 15. Fifty-three escaped. The militants are threatening to sell the girls into slavery. – Sapa and Sapa-AP

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