by WorldTribune Staff, May 7, 2017
Nigeria’s government released five commanders of Boko Haram in exchange for 82 of the schoolgirls who had been abducted by the terror group three years ago, Nigerian officials said.
Nigerian authorities said 113 of the 276 Chibok girls abducted from their boarding school in 2014 remain missing.
Girls who escaped said some of their classmates had died from illness while some did not want to go home because they’d been radicalized by the group that is linked to Islamic State (ISIS).
An unnamed Nigerian military official with direct knowledge of the rescue operation told The Associated Press that the girls were found near Banki, a town close to the border with Cameroon. Boko Haram remains active in the area, despite claims by Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari that the jihadists had been crushed and driven from their last forest hideout.
The International Committee of the Red Cross says it acted as a neutral intermediary and transported the 82 freed schoolgirls to Nigeria’s government on May 6.
Pernille Ironside, UNICEF’s acting representative in Nigeria, said the charity was ready to provide support to the returned captives. “It is heartening to know that the girls will be returning to their families who have been waiting for this day,” she said.
“They will face a long and difficult process to rebuild their lives after the indescribable horror and trauma they have suffered at the hands of Boko Haram,” she said.
“We will help reunite the girls with their families and make sure they can continue their education in a safe environment. Already, staff at a UNICEF-supported health clinic have been supporting immediate efforts to identify the girls and conduct medical check-ups before their onward transport.”