Finally, some good news has emerged from the fight with Boko Haram in Nigeria. 21 missing Chibok schoolgirls have been returned to the Nigerian government, Mallam Garba Shehu, the spokesperson for the president of Nigeria, announced today.
Boko Haram, the terrorist group that kidnapped a total of 276 girls from their boarding school beds in Chibok, have agreed to release them after a series of high-level negotiations alongside the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Swiss government.
It is confirmed that 21 of the missing Chibok Girls have been released and are in the custody of the Department of State Services, DSS.— Mallam Garba Shehu (@GarShehu) October 13, 2016
The 21 schoolgirls make up the largest single release of prisoners from Boko Haram yet.
Initially, it was thought that the minimum conditions for their freedom would involve an exchange with imprisoned extremist fighters.
Reports on the conditions for release are conflicting. Some sources say that no fighters were let go, but others claim that four fighters were traded as part of the deal.
The schoolgirls are currently in Maiduguri, northeast Nigeria, where a car bomb killed 8 people just yesterday. They are resting there before they will be reunited with their families.
The President of Nigeria welcomed the girls’ release on Twitter.
As I depart Abuja for Germany on an Official Visit, I welcome the release of 21 of our Chibok Girls, following successful negotiations.— Muhammadu Buhari (@MBuhari) October 13, 2016
The kidnapping sparked global outcry, inspiring the viral #BringBackOurGirls movement that could claim Michelle Obama amongst its most prominent advocates.
Most of the girls are still missing, as the fight to bring them all back to their families rages on. It is estimated that approximately 190 of the schoolgirls are still held by Boko Haram.
I can only weep, right now. You know that kind of cry that is a mix of multiple emotions.— Oby Ezekwesili (@obyezeks) October 13, 2016
Lord. Some of OUR Girls ARE BACK!!! B. A. C. K.!!
The news provides fresh hope to the world that the government will be able to free the schoolgirls still in captivity.
However, Shehu has urged Nigeria to remember that, despite the optimism of the release, over 30,000 people have still died in the conflict with Boko Haram, with even more displaced from their homes. The extremist group, with confirmed ties to Islamic State, is in ongoing talks with the government over the release of the remaining schoolgirls.