Pakistani education activist Malala Yousafzai is in Nigeria this week to celebrate her 17th birthday with a very specific wish: to bring back the over 200 missing girls who were taken from their school by Boko Haram militants in April.
Malala is set to meet with Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan this afternoon. Jonathan, who still hasn't met with the missing girls' families, has been criticized for his handling of the on-going crisis. Since the kidnapping in April, Boko Haram militants have kidnapped at least 60 more girls and 21 boys.
The Associated Press reports that President Jonathan has repeatedly refused to negotiate with the extremists.
Via the AP:
Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau put out a new video this week in which he repeated his demands that the government release scores of detained insurgents in exchange for the girls' freedom.
"Nigerians are saying 'Bring Back Our Girls,' and we are telling Jonathan to bring back our arrested warriors, our army," he says in the video.
Jonathan so far has refused.
Malala, who was attacked by the Taliban in 2012, has met with several families of the missing girls since arriving in Nigeria and considers the missing girls her "sisters."
"We express our solidarity with you and we are with you, we are standing up with you in your campaign of 'Bring Back Our Girls,' bring back our daughters because I consider these girls as my sister, they are my sisters," Malala said at the meeting with parents. "I'm going to speak up for them until they are released, and I'm going to participate actively in the 'Bring Back Our Girls' campaign to make sure that they return safely and continue their education."
Last week, the Agence France-Presse reported that more than 60 of the missing girls have escaped.
[Image via AP]