Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Important missions

THE world is now engrossed in the suspense surrounding the abduction of over 200 school girls in Nigeria. Following closely on the heels of the mystery of missing Malaysian Airlines Flight 370, it is another major event in the international community that has implications across borders.

In comparing the two incidents, there are a few similarities, but more differences abound.

In the case of the missing flight, 227 passengers from 14 nations remain missing. Though criticised for its late start, official searches for the plane began hours after it was reported missing. And though suspicion was rampant that terrorists might have been involved, investigations so far have ruled out interference by anyone outside of the plane’s manifest.

Conversely, while a similar number of Nigerian schoolgirls remain missing, more are being abducted in isolated incidents, making this an on-going nightmare for families in that country. Furthermore, while the search for the missing flight took days to gain momentum, it has been nearly a month since the schoolgirls were taken with no rescue effort being attempted and, unlike the mysterious flight, there is reliable information as to the girls’ whereabouts, even if an exact location is not known. Finally, investigators are still trying to piece together exactly what happened during the flight and who was responsible and why, but the motive for the Nigerian abduction is clear. The militant Islamist group Boko Haram has laid claim to the atrocity with its leader Abubakar Shekau threatening on camera to sell the girls in the market or “give their hands in marriage because they are our slaves”.

In terms of the approach, the Malaysian government came in for a lot of heavy tongue-lashing due to their non-disclosure, inaccuracy and obscurity while dealing with the missing flight. Similarly, the Nigerian government is being blamed for its inaction and ineffectiveness in protecting its people against these militants. Both countries have accepted assistance from the international community, with the United States and France sending teams to Nigeria in the last few days to assist that government.

It is hoped that both these incidents can be resolved. Though the time lapse with Flight 370 most likely means that there will be no rescue, only recovery, for the sake of those families involved we are optimistic that the plane will still be located.

However, resolution in Nigeria will mean more than rescue of the nearly 300 girls. Resolution will mean the eradication of the militant group and building up and training the government’s forces to better defend themselves. The government’s military is currently being criticised severely. It may also call for the people of Nigeria to make tougher political choices to weed out corruption and vote in better representation.

Still, one of the biggest hurdles that must come crashing down is the thriving network for human trafficking in that part of the world. With the eyes of the world on the Boko Haram, it is shocking to think that they are still able to sell off scores of underaged females in the midst of this scrutiny. There is no fear on their part, or on the part of buyers, for reprisal. This alone would indicate that governments need to clampdown on human trafficking and be tougher with their restrictions and in imposing sentences for such actions.

In the meantime, we wait and watch the developments and pray for the best resolutions in both cases.

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