May 12, 2017

100 freed Chibok girls are set to go back to school in September

Some of the girls freed this week board a helicopter at Abuja

Ewan Watt

Online Editor, Theirworld

The 82 girls released this week will be reunited with 24 classmates rescued last year - and the Nigerian government hopes they will all resume their education in September.

More than 100 of the freed Chibok schoolgirls should be ready to resume their education in September, according to Nigeria's minister for women.

The 82 students released this week will be reunited with 24 of their classmates who were released or found last year, said Aisha Alhassan.

She said they will receive psychological therapy to help them reintegrate into society three years after they abducted by Boko Haram.

Alhassan said the government hoped to have all of the girls back at school for the start of the new academic year - but would not say if that would be in Chibok or elsewhere. 

"I believe from now to September, these other ones (the recently released 82 girls) would have stabilised and we will be able to ‎take all of them back to school in September," she said.

She said those just released seemed to be in a better psychological condition than those set free last year.

The minister also said the 82 newly-freed girls will be reunited with their parents next week.

"Any parents that identified their children will be brought next week to see them," she told the news agency AFP. 

The girls have been staying at an intelligence agency facility on the outskirts of the capital Abuja after they were released in a prisoner swap following months of talks.

"It is better to send them to school," said Goni Mutar, father of Asabe Goni, one of the girls released in October.

"The president made a promise that he will educate them," he said, adding that parents of the girls were worried about having to pay for their schooling if it was not covered by the state.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has vowed to "spare no effort" to ensure that more than 100 Chibok schoolgirls still missing are rescued or released by Boko Haram.

The militant group abducted 276 girls from the Government Girls Secondary School on April 14, 2014 as they prepared to sit exams.

Fifty-seven managed to escape in the hours that followed but the remaining 219 were held by the group.

The release of 21 other Chibok girls in October followed talks between Boko Haram and the Nigerian government brokered by the ICRC and the Swiss. The same parties were also involved this time.

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