21 Chibok Girls Kidnapped by Boko Haram Return Home, While Millions Suffer From Seven Years of Terrorism

By The Stream Published on December 26, 2016

21 of the 200-some schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram in April 2014 have been returned to their families in time for Christmas, reports AllAfrica.com. The girls, taken from their school in Chibok, a town in the northeastern Nigerian state of Borno, were freed in a deal brokered by the International Red Cross and the Swiss government.

They had been reunited with the families in October after being freed, but were kept by the government for medical and psychological treatment, the New York Times reported in October.  Two days were allowed to return home.

One of the girls released, 22-year-old Assabe Goni, said in another story that she had given up hope of ever going home. The girls weren’t forced to become Muslims she said, though the kidnappers told them they could go home if they did. They weren’t forced to marry, but describing how the girls were sometimes whipped, said “the way they talked to us about it, you would be afraid not to. That is why some were convinced to marry.”

The girls were not “otherwise abused or raped,” claimed the article, originally published by Al Jazeera. However, the New York Times had reported that the kidnapped girls were forced to

join the militants or become their slaves. About half of them chose to join and marry the fighters and were taken away, never to be heard from. Those who refused endured more than two years of servitude, washing, fetching water and cooking for Boko Haram. The girls, nearly all of them Christians, lived in grass huts and were forced to convert to Islam.”

20,000 Killed, 2.6 Million Displaced

According to AllAfrica, the terrorist group’s attacks have resulted in the deaths of at least 20,000 people and displaced 2.6 million since 2009. “14 million people will need outside help in 2017, particularly in Borno state, where villagers under siege have typically been forced to abandon their crops.”

Calling the crisis “the largest crisis on the African continent,” the United Nations reports that the extent of the needs has become clearer as the Nigerian government has driven Boko Haram out of the areas in northeastern Nigeria it controlled. “While fear of unexploded improvised devices prevents farmers from planting for a third year in a row, nearly 5.1 million people are expected to face serious food shortages.” The UN’s 2017 Humanitarian Response Plan for Nigeria seeks $1 billion to aid the affected areas.

The American aid group Save the Children reports that most of the over 1.4 million people displaced by Boko Haram “don’t know if and when they will have to flee again. Some have fled several times already as the fighting spreads, and they hurriedly gather whatever they can and start running once more.”

In its 2015 report, “Our Job is to shoot, slaughter, and kill”: Boko Harma’s Reign of Terror in North East Nigeria, Amnesty International found that the group had “has committed war crimes and crimes against humanity with impunity.” Boko Haram had

killed thousands of people, abducted at least 2000 and forced more than a million to flee their homes since 2009. Through a campaign of almost daily killings, bombings, abductions, looting and burning, Boko Haram has crippled normal life in north-east Nigeria. Towns and villages have been pillaged. Schools, churches, mosques and other public buildings have been attacked and destroyed. Boko Haram is brutally mistreating civilians trapped in areas under its control.

It had even used women and children as suicide bombers.

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