Abducted Chibok girls ‘may be released after Boko Haram truce’

A Boko Haram video showing the girls soon after their adbuction

A truce has reportedly been agreed between Boko Haram and the government of Nigeria that may see the abducted girls of Chibok being released.

Nigerian chief of defence staff Alex Badeh announced the truce and members of the #BringBackOurGirls campaign tweeted: “We are monitoring the news with huge expectations.” But there has been no statement from Boko Haram.

The 219 schoolgirls have been held captive for more than six months since they were taken at gunpoint from their school in northeast Nigeria. Their kidnapping prompted the global #BringBackOurGirls campaign, supported by A World at School.

The campaign saw a global outcry by young people, faith leaders, NGOs and the United Nations, including the UN Special Envoy for Global Education Gordon Brown. It prompted the development of the Safe Schools Initiative by the government of Nigeria in collaboration with the Global Business Coalition for Education and A World at School.

Mr Brown, who has visited Nigeria and worked for the release of the girls, said: “We remain desperately concerned about the Chibok girls who, after six months of captivity, must be freed soon.

“The good news is that we have been told they are safe but we cannot rest satisfied until all are able to return to their homes and their families.”

News of the possible release of the girls came in a message sent by Mr Badeh to other service chiefs, asking them “to comply with the ceasefire agreement between Nigeria and Boko Haram in all theatres of operations”.

Voice of America broke the news of a ceasefire, reporting a close advisor to Nigerian President President Goodluck Jonathan and a man purporting to be the Secretary-General of Boko Haram confirming that negotiations have been taking place.

According to their source – whose identity cannot be verified – the girls are “in good condition and unharmed”.

This tweet from BBC presenter Audrey Brown quotes Nigerian Ambassador Tukur as saying the girls may be released as early as next week:

The BBC also reported that Mr Tukur said the agreement was sealed after a month of negotiations, mediated by Chad. Mr Tukur said Boko Haram had announced a unilateral ceasefire yesterday and added: “They’ve assured us they have the girls and they will release them. I am cautiously optimistic.”

The ceasefire has been reported by the Nigerian newspapers ThisDay and Punch as well as the international news agency Reuters, which quotes an unamed source as saying the Nigerian government has agreed two truces with Boko Haram – one “a ceasefire agreement and then the release of the abducted Chibok girls”.

Britain’s Daily Telegraph quotes Alex Badeh as saying “A ceasefire agreement has been concluded between the Federal Government of Nigeria and the Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati wal-Jihad (Boko Haram).  I have accordingly directed the service chiefs to ensure immediate compliance with this development in the field.”

However, it also strikes a note of caution, quoting one commentator, who has previously been involved in negotiations with Boko Haram, as saying he had “never heard of” the man claiming to represent Boko Haram in the negotiations.

You can show your unity with the Chibok girls and call for safe schools for all children around the world by signing the #UpForSchool Petition.

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