Nigeria must negotiate release of 195 Chibok girls: Group

AP News
Posted: Apr 04, 2017 8:23 AM

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Nigeria's government must speedily negotiate the release of 195 kidnapped Chibok schoolgirls held by Boko Haram Islamic extremists for nearly three years, the Bring Back Our Girls group said Tuesday.

It also asked why two dozen of the Chibok girls freed last year have been held for months of alleged rehabilitation instead of being reunited with their families.

"Regarding the 24 of the girls that are back from terrorist captivity, it remains a puzzle to us that even their parents are not very informed on what the program of rehabilitation that the federal government is allegedly implementing seeks to achieve," the group said.

The group published a letter it sent to the government on Jan. 23, saying it had never been answered. "We are not satisfied with the conduct of the federal government and the military establishment," the letter said, citing a "failure of leadership" to organize a rescue.

Nigerian officials did not respond to requests for comment.

Boko Haram's mass abduction of 276 girls from a boarding school in April 2014 brought international outrage and promises to help free them from around the world.

Dozens of the girls quickly escaped on their own, and 21 were freed in October through negotiations with Boko Haram mediated by the Swiss government and the International Committee of the Red Cross. The government denied a ransom was paid and that it freed some detained Boko Haram fighters in exchange for the girls.

At that time, officials said they expected the release of a second group of 83 girls "very soon." No more have been freed.