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Chibok Schoolgirls

Months ago, several girls out of 82 boarded a helicopter at the outskirts of Abuja, the capital of Nigeria. They were on the way to be reunited with their parents and classmates. After a re-integration programme, their education was resumed last September for those who wanted.

The group of 82 Chibok schoolgirls was released by Boko Haram after lengthy talks brokered by the Swiss government and the International Committee of the Red Cross and mediated by local lawyers.

Days ago, the first conviction of a man involved in the 2014 kidnapping of 276 schoolgirls from the town of Chibok, Borno state, northeast Nigeria, became a fact. A spokesman of the Justice ministry advised that the 35-year-old member of Boko Haram was given 15 years in jail after admitting to taking part in the abduction.

Hundreds of Boko Haram suspects have been tried by a special court. More than 1000 suspects are still held at the Kainji military detention facility.

In the dead of night, on April 14, 2014, Boko Haram militants attacked the Government Girls Secondary School where the students were preparing to sit high school exams.

57 of the students managed to escape in the hours immediately after the abduction.

21 of the kidnapped schoolgirls were freed in October 2016 with the help of the same European and international mediators supporting the latest release of 82 Chibok schoolgirls.

Three other girls of the total of 276 were also found by a local group of volunteers and a task force. They were rescued and brought to safety.

One of the remaining girls in captivity was rescued this January by the Nigerian troops during a military operation in northeast Nigeria.

Nearly four years after the kidnapping, around 100 #ChibokGirls are still missing and believed to be held captive by Boko Haram. A few are considered to have lost their lives.

#BringBackOurGirls campaigners keep on being vocal about the need for the Nigerian government to exert pressure during the ongoing negotiations linked to the release of the remaining schoolgirls.

A month after the mass abduction in 2014, a Safe Schools initiative was launched in Nigeria. Nowadays it has spread around the world in pursuit of making schools more secure, and of protecting students and teachers who live in conflict zones and chronic violence. A Safe Schools Declaration has been endorsed by 72 countries so far, including most EU countries. The declaration refers to the protection of schools and universities from military use during armed conflict.

In the spirit of the Safe Schools Initiatives globally, the plea to the EU and the international community is to invest aid in making the institutions of education safe. The move enables young people to learn in crises and vulnerable situations.

Away from the headlines, less reported cases of young boys and girls being used as “human bombs” by Boko Haram speak of a “reign of terror”: over 1500 schools destroyed, 4000 abducted children and women, 8000 recruited as child soldiers, and 3900 children killed.

Mariela Baeva, #BringBackOurGirls campaigner

P.S.: https://edition.cnn.com/2018/02/21/africa/boko-haram-schoolgirls-missing-raid/index.html

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