Freed Chibok schoolgirls reunited with their families | News | DW | 20.05.2017
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Freed Chibok schoolgirls reunited with their families

Dozens of young women who were kidnapped by Boko Haram extremists have been reunited with relatives in Nigeria's capital. Authorities had taken the 82 freed Chibok girls to Abuja after their release earlier this month.

Watch video 01:50

Tears of joy as Chibok girls meet parents

The women who had spent more than three years in captivity were reunited with their families on Saturday.

"I am really happy today, I am Christmas and New Year, I am very happy and I thank God," mother Godiya Joshua, whose daughter Esther was among those freed, was quoted as saying by The Associated Press news agency.

Watch video 03:19

Adrian Kriesch reports from Nigeria

Earlier this month, 82 of the Chibok schoolgirls were released by Boko Haram militants following a deal with Nigerian authorities. It was the largest liberation of hostages since 276 schoolgirls were snatched from their boarding school in the northeastern Nigerian town of Chibok in 2014.

The 82 girls were freed in return for the government releasing five Boko Haram commanders. Nigerian authorities have indicated they could make further exchanges to free the 113 abducted Chibok girls who are still missing.

DW West Africa correspondent Adrian Kriesch, who attended a function put on for the freed girls' parents, said many of them had told him the real celebration could only start when all of the missing girls were released.

The group of most recently freed girls have been in Abuja undergoing medical checks and meeting politicians for the past two weeks, but Saturday marked the first time they were able to see their families.

Read more: Chibok girls free but can't return home

More than three years in captivity

Nigeria Präsident Muhammadu Buhari und die freigelassenen Chibok-Mädchen in Abuja (Reuters/Presidential Office/B. Omoboriowo)

The girls, freed earlier in May, have met several politicians but had to wait to see their parents

Most of the Chibok girls were Christians. During their captivity some of them were forced to marry Boko Haram militants and have had children.

The group has released propaganda videos which purported to show some of the girls had been radicalized and refused to return home. It is feared some of the captured girls may have been used in suicide bombings.

While Nigeria's military has seized back much of the territory Boko Haram controlled, the group is still capable of launching deadly attacks. Since 2009, the extremist militants have been fighting to set up their own state based on their interpretation of Islamic law.

The mass kidnapping sparked the Bring Back Our Girls campaign, which was taken up by then-US first lady Michelle Obama, and brought international attention to the plight of those caught up in the Boko Haram insurgency. Aside from the Chibok girls, thousands of people in northern Nigeria have been kidnapped and more than 20,000 have been killed in the eight years of conflict.

se/jlw (AP, dpa)

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