Three years ago, Boko Haram made headlines for kidnapping nearly 300 schoolgirls from the Nigerian town of Chibok. On Sunday, the Islamic militants released eighty-two of the prisoners, bringing joy to many families who had all but lost hope of ever seeing their loved ones again. But there was a big price to pay for their freedom: 5 detained extremist leaders were allowed to go free, The Guardian reported.
While it’s great news that these girls were released, five more terrorist leaders will now be free to plan attacks on other innocent civilians. But for now, the focus remains on healing the young Chibok schoolgirls who have faced many emotional, spiritual and physical obstacles.
A source told Associated Press that the Chibok schoolgirls are mostly Christian and over the past few years some were forced to marry the Boko Haram militants and bear children in forest hideouts.
READ: KEEP PRAYING: Fate of 200 Girls Kidnapped by Boko Haram Still Unknown
Faithwire reported in February, that a Chibok schoolgirl escapee using the pseudonym Sa’a to protect her identity said, the fate of 200 schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram in 2014 is still unknown.
This evening I received 82 of our daughters, who have just regained their freedom after three years in Boko Haram captivity. pic.twitter.com/fy6pEXAOZx
— Muhammadu Buhari (@MBuhari) May 7, 2017
This past April marked three years since Boko Haram kidnapped 276 girls from a boarding school in the primarily Christian town of Chibok in northeast Nigeria. Since then, some of the girls have managed to escape, and 21 of them were released in October of last year before this large group was liberated over the weekend.
The deal to free the 82 schoolgirls was mediated by the Swiss government and the International Committee of the Red Cross, a statement from President Muhammadu Buhari’s office said.
.@MBuhari Security agencies, the military, the Government of Switzerland, the International Committee of the Red Cross, & local and international NGOs
— Presidency Nigeria (@NGRPresident) May 6, 2017
STATE HOUSE PRESS STATEMENT82 MORE CHIBOK GIRLS RELEASEDPresident Muhammadu Buhari is pleased to announce that…
Posted by Aso Rock Villa on Saturday, May 6, 2017
Over the past couple of years, the plight of the Chibok schoolgirls prompted a social media campaign that used the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls, which has been backed by international leaders such as former U.S. first lady Michelle Obama and former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Bukky Shonibare with the #BringBackOurGirls campaign has been very vocal about the mass kidnapping. In 2016, the activist told NBC that one of the schoolgirls was able to escape.
And this past weekend, Shonibare told Sky TV after hearing the news about this large release that, “This is a very, very exciting news for us that we have over 80 of our girls coming back again.”
“Their life in captivity has been one that depicts suffering, it depicts the fact that they have been starved, abused, and as we have seen before some of those girls have come back with children, and some of them have also come back with news of how they have been sexually abused.”
Faithwire previously reported in February of this year, that a Chibok schoolgirl who escaped from Boko Haram militants in Nigeria begged for the international community to remember her fellow female classmates.
On Monday of this week, 48 hours after the official release announcement was publicly shared, the girls’ names were put on Twitter by the president’s office and flown to the Nigerian capital.
Nigeria presidency releases names of 82 freed Chibok girls. https://t.co/GEtU1tDD5w
— The Associated Press (@AP) May 8, 2017
Miles away from Abuja, in the north-east regional city of Chibok, many families are still unsure if their daughter is one of the 83 young women that have been freed. As of Monday, people were checking newspapers to see if their child’s name was on the list because many locals don’t have access to social media.
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