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Nigeria, Boko Haram resume negotiations to release 83 more Chibok girls

 

Negotiations between the Federal Government of Nigeria and militant group, Boko Haram, for the release of another 83 Chibok schoolgirls resume today, four days after 21 girls were freed.

Of the 197 Chibok schoolgirls still held hostage, only 83 will be negotiated for when Nigeria resumes talks for their release, sources familiar with the matter said.

Asked why only 83 of the 197 girls remaining would be negotiated for, the sources said it was because the remaining 114 girls had either died, been married off, or hesitant to leave their Boko Haram kidnappers.

The militant group had kidnapped 276 girls and women, ages 16 to 18, in the middle of the night at a boarding school in Chibok, Nigeria, in April 2014.

“The truth is that those Chibok girls are now Boko Haram members, having married the sect members and become radicalised,” a source said.

“The remaining 83 girls are with a top leader of Boko Haram and those are the only ones we are going to work for their release in the next phase of our negotiations which starts immediately.

“The others had since become Boko Haram members, having been married off and radicalised into Boko Haram as soon as they were captured over two years ago,” the source added.

In the early hours of Thursday morning, 21 of the kidnapped Chibok schoolgirls were released by their Boko Haram captors in the town of Banki close to Nigeria’s border with Cameroon.

They were handed over to a team from the International Committee of the Red Cross who provided assistance during the transfer of the girls.

A few hours later this group of young girls, whose kidnap from their school dormitories in the town of Chibok triggered international condemnation more than two years ago, were arriving in the capital Abuja to be received by the country’s vice-president.

It was a rare piece of good news in Nigeria’s brutal fight against a Boko Haram insurgency that has killed thousands of people and destroyed much of the country’s northeast.

The girls’ release was all the more surprising given that just last month the government – under intense pressure to do more to free the students – announced that negotiations with the Islamist group had broken down.

The United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, commended the efforts of the Federal Government on the release.

A statement from the UN Secretariat in New York stated that the Secretary-General also called on the international community to assist Nigeria in securing the release of the remaining girls from Boko Haram’s grip.

The statement read: “The Secretary-General welcomes the reported release of 21 Chibok schoolgirls, following more than two years of captivity. “He remains deeply concerned about the safety and well being of the remaining schoolgirls and other victims of abduction by Boko Haram, who are still in captivity. “The Secretary-General urges the international community to continue supporting the government of Nigeria in its efforts to secure their release, rehabilitation and reintegration. “He calls for increased efforts to ensure additional humanitarian access in the northeast of Nigeria, and reiterates the continued commitment of the United Nations in this regard.


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