May 08, 2017

No rest until all Chibok schoolgirls are found says Nigerian president after 82 are freed

The freed Chibok girls with Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhair

Ewan Watt

Online Editor, Theirworld

After many of the missing girls were released, Muhammadu Buhari pledged to "spare no effort" to find the remaining students and hundreds of other people abducted by Boko Haram.

Nigeria's president has vowed to "spare no effort" to ensure that more than 100 Chibok schoolgirls still missing are rescued or released by Boko Haram.

Muhammadu Buhari made the promise as he met 82 girls who were dramatically set free two days ago after three years in captivity.

"I cannot express in a few words how happy I am to welcome our dear girls back to freedom," he said. He pledged to "personally supervise" authorities charged with ensuring the girls' "health, education, security and general wellbeing".

Buhari met the girls, who were freed in exchange for prisoners after months of negotiations, at his Presidential Villa in the capital Abuja.

Some of the girls get on to a military helicopter at Abuja

He told them: “Let me reassure Nigerians, especially relatives and friends of the remaining girls, that the federal government will spare no effort to see that they and all other Nigerians who have been abducted safely regain their freedom."

The campaign group #BringBackOurGirls said it was delighted by the release of the 82 girls, who had been kidnapped as part of Boko Haram's war on education. 

Leaders Oby Ezekwesili and Aisha Yesufu said: “We are also glad that the statement from the presidency makes a strong commitment to rescuing the remaining 113 of our Chibok girls that are still captives of terrorists.”

Gordon Brown, the United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education, echoed the sentiment, saying: "This is such encouraging news after three heartbreaking years for families in Chibok.

“What is unknown at the moment is how many of the girls are still enslaved. But we must now urge authorities and negotiators not to give up until every single one of them has been safely returned.

“And we must ensure safe schools so that girls everywhere can be educated free of fear.”

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

We must ensure safe schools so that girls everywhere can be educated free of fear.

Gordon Brown, UN Special Envoy for Global Education

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.

The girls released two days ago were taken to a medical facility for checks after arriving in Abuja by military helicopter. They then met the president for about 45 minutes.

Enoch Mark, a Christian pastor whose two daughters were among those kidnapped, said of the latest releases: "This is good news to us. We have been waiting for this day. 

"We hope the remaining girls will soon be released."

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