Chibok parents demand negotiations with Boko Haram after video release | Africa | DW | 15.08.2016
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Chibok parents demand negotiations with Boko Haram after video release

Parents of the abducted "Chibok girls" are calling on Nigeria's government to negotiate a release of their children.

After watching his daughter on video for the first time since she was abducted two years ago, Yakubu Kabu is torn between relief and fear.

"When I heard her voice, I realized that this is my daughter. I am very happy. Since they went to that place, I didn't hear anything from her," he told reporters in Nigeria's capital, Abuja.

But for Kabu and his wife, the sleepless nights are set to continue.

"She's not in a good condition. She has grown slim; she was not like that," Kabu said.

"We want the government to move quickly, because some girls are suffering. They are very, very sick; some are in a terrible condition," he added.

In the video, their daughter, probably speaking under duress, begged the parents of the girls to pressure the Nigerian government to release imprisoned Boko Haram fighters in exchange for the more than 200 girls who were abducted from their school in Chibok two years ago.

She also said that many girls had been killed by Nigerian military airstrikes against Boko Haram.

A militant also warned the government of President Muhammadu Buhari in the video that the parents will never see the girls again if the military campaign against Boko Haram continues.

A suspected member of Boko Haram stands in front of some of the Chibok girls in the video.

For some parents, the video is the first sign of life from their daughters.

A strategic move?

Nigeria's military says it is carrying out massive aerial bombardments and ground attacks against Boko Haram. The army claims it has freed thousands of Boko Haram hostages.

"This seems to be a strategic move by Boko Haram to show that the military crackdown that started a few months ago is a failure," said DW's Africa Correspondent Adrian Kriesch.

"This is the message they want to show to the public. But if this is true or not is very hard to say," he added.

Pressure on the government is increasing

Bring Back Our Girls, a lobby group that has been spearheading the campaign for the girls' release in Nigeria, has also reiterated its calls on Nigeria's government to negotiate the girls' speedy release.

"We demand immediate, transparent action and a results-oriented plan by the government," the group's Aisha Yesifu said at a press conference in Abuja.

"We shall press these demands with a march to the [presidential] villa in the next few days," Yesifu added.

Residents of northern Nigeria, which has borne the brunt of the Boko Haram insurgency, were optimistic that the girls could eventually be released.

"Before we didn't have any hope. But with this video, there is hope. I know the government and the military will do something to get the girls back to their communities," a local resident told a DW correspondent in Adamawa State.

President Buhari talking to a freed Boko Haram hostage.

President Buhari has promised to free the Chibok girls.

Frustration with the government is high in Nigeria, because despite promises by President Buhari and his predecessor Goodluck Jonathan, the girls have not been rescued.

Military campaign won't stop

After the release of the video, the government maintained that it is still ready to negotiate with the Islamist group about the girls' release.

"We are prepared to discuss without any preconditions with any group that has bona fide leadership, that has the mandate of the group and the girls in their hands," presidential spokesman Garba Shehu told DW.

However, the government would not stop the military campaign against Boko Haram until negotiations begin in earnest, Shehu said.

"The government of Nigeria will not call off the ongoing military operation. It will continue as long as the government does not have a credible partner we can discuss with," he added.

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