NIGERIA: Released Chibok girls resume education

released-chibok-girls-sep-17More than 100 “Chibok girls” freed from Boko Haram in the past year have been reunited with their families and resumed their education.

The young women (pictured at a government-organised celebration earlier this month), now aged between 19 and 21, were part of the group of 276 girls (predominantly Christian) kidnapped from Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok, Borno state, in April 2014.

Twenty one were released in October 2016 and 82 were freed in May 2107. Since their release, they have been in government custody undergoing rehabilitation therapy.

aisha-alhassanThe Nigerian Women Affairs Minister Aisha Alhassan (pictured) says they are now “fully recovered” and they were handed over to their parents at a party in the capital Abuja earlier this month.

Ms Alhassan said: “They are going to be in one of the best schools, the American University of Nigeria [located in Yola, Adamawa State in the northeast of the country], where they will start a special foundation programme like a pre-degree.

“It’s a very happy day. When the girls came out, they were so traumatised that they didn’t even believe they were free. They are fully recovered, and they are very anxious to go to school.”

However, some sources have said that some of the young women were opposed to going to the school because Boko Haram has carried out recent attacks in part of Adamawa state. One source said, “Many of the girls have expressed fear that they could be abducted for a second time. Yet, they are afraid to go against the decision of the minister to enroll them.” It was reported that one of the young women attempted suicide earlier this month because of her fears.

More than 100 of the schoolgirls kidnapped from Chibok remain in Boko Haram captivity but Ms Alhassan said negotiations with the militants are ongoing to secure their release. “The good news is that very soon I assure you that by the grace of God we will have our remaining girls released. That is to say negotiation is still on and we will see light at the end of tunnel and very soon we will have our remaining daughters back,” she said.

(BBC/The Cable/Sahara Reporters/Voice of America)