82 Chibok girls to reunite with parents next week

Aisha Alhassan, Nigeria Minister of Women Affairs said that the 82 Chibok girls released last Saturday by the Boko Haram Insurgents will reunite with members of their families next week.

The Minister in an interview with AFP, disclosed that the parents of the released girls will travel from Northern Nigeria to Abuja for the reunion.

“Any parents that identified their children will be brought next week to see them,” she told AFP at the staff quarters of the Department of State Services.

The 82 have been staying at the domestic intelligence agency facility on the outskirts of the city since their release in a prisoner swap deal on Saturday after months of negotiations.

The Islamist militants seized 276 girls in April 2014, triggering global condemnation and drawing attention to the bloody insurgency.

Fifty-seven escaped in the immediate aftermath. Of the 219 who did not manage to flee, 106 have either been released or found, leaving 113 still missing.

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First Lady Aisha Buhari, whose husband President Muhammadu Buhari was elected on a pledge to defeat Boko Haram, met some of the Chibok girls on Wednesday.

The girls, dressed in colourful traditional Ankara print dresses, sang songs and danced in front of the cameras.

The women’s minister said the recently-released 82 would be reunited at another facility in the capital with 24 of their classmates who were released or found last year.

They will receive “psycho-social therapy” and “vocational training” to help them reintegrate into society.

Campaign groups and families have criticised the government for keeping the previously released girls away from their parents but Alhassan said they were free to come and go from the centre.

Most chose to stay in the capital, she added.

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The government’s goal is to have all the girls back in school at the start of the new academic year, she added, without specifying where.

“I believe from now to September, these other ones (the recently released 82 girls) would have stabilised and we will be able to ‎take all of them back to school in September.”

Thousands of women and young girls have been abducted in the eight-year insurgency, which has left at least 20,000 people dead and displaced more than 2.6 million.

Information minister Lai Mohammed meanwhile indicated talks with Boko Haram about the release of the remaining 113 girls could pave the way for a possible end to the conflict.

“We are looking beyond the release of these girls. We are looking a something much more comprehensive, which is the cessation of all hostilities,” he said.