Families, friends and supporters of the girls kidnapped in Nigeria are holding a “sit-in” protest today in the country’s capital city, Abuja, close to the site where world leaders are gathering for the World Economic Forum.
The rally comes amid reports that eight more girls have been abducted. UNICEF, which confirmed the additional abductions, called the situation a “worsening nightmare” for the nearly 300 captives who have been kidnapped from their communities in recent weeks.
The militant Islamist group Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for the kidnappings. The anti-Western group has since threatened to sell the girls into slavery.
The girls’ plight has attracted international condemnation and spurred a global call to action.
“UNICEF calls on the abductors to immediately return these girls unharmed to their communities, and we implore all those with influence on the perpetrators to do everything they can to secure the safe return of the girls – and to bring their abductors to justice,” the organization said in a statement.
The White House announced Tuesday that it is sending a team to Nigeria to aid the effort to find the girls and those responsible, amid criticism that the Nigerian government has done too little to rescue them.
“We’ve already sent in a team to Nigeria,” President Obama said. “They’ve accepted our help through a combination of military, law enforcement, and other agencies who are going in, trying to identify where, in fact, these girls might be and provide them help.”