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Nigerian President-Elect Vows to Help Chibok Girls


People march in a silent protest calling on the government to rescue the kidnapped girls of the government secondary school in Chibok, who were abducted a year ago, in Abuja, Nigeria, April 13, 2015.

People march in a silent protest calling on the government to rescue the kidnapped girls of the government secondary school in Chibok, who were abducted a year ago, in Abuja, Nigeria, April 13, 2015.

Nigeria's President-elect Muhammadu Buhari said Tuesday his administration will do everything in its power to rescue more than 200 girls captured by Islamic militants one year ago.

On the anniversary of the kidnapping, Buhari criticized the current government's efforts to find the girls, saying his administration "will act differently from the government we replace." He said on the day he takes office, Boko Haram militants will know the "strength of our collective will."

Buhari won recent elections in part by promising to do more to fight the Islamist militants.

Earlier, Nobel Peace laureate Malala Yousafzai criticized Nigeria for failing to rescue the girls. However, she said there are now "reasons for hope and optimism."

In a letter to the girls Monday, the Pakistani activist said "Nigerian forces are regaining territory and protecting more schools. Nigeria’s newly elected president, Muhammadu Buhari, has vowed to make securing your freedom a top priority, and promised his government will not tolerate violence against women and girls."

In another development, Amnesty International released a new report Tuesday saying at least 2,000 women and girls have been abducted by Boko Haram since the beginning of 2014. It says many have been forced into sexual slavery and made to participate in armed attacks.

The United Nations Children Fund said Monday that 800,000 children have been displaced by Boko Haram violence, nearly half the 1.5 million people uprooted by the militants' campaign.

In Abuja, protesters held a silent vigil Monday after one year of campaigns to "Bring Back Our Girls."

"We decided that we've spoken so often about this and we're just going to try to show the people what it feels like to have your voice taken," said coordinator of the "Bring Back Our Girls'' campaign, Oby Ezekwesili.

More than 200 girls were kidnapped by Boko Haram on April 14, 2014 from a government-run secondary school in the northeastern town of Chibok.

Boko Haram has carried out a campaign of terrorism since 2009 to turn Nigeria into an Islamic state, and has recently spread across the borders to attack towns in neighboring Cameroon, Chad and Niger.

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