Nigeria: IGOHR Welcomes the Release of 82 Chibok Schoolgirls from Boko Haram
The International Gulf Organization for Human Rights (IGOHR) welcomes the release of 82 of the 276 Chibok schoolgirls who were abducted by the extremist group Boko Haram in Northern Nigeria since 2014. IGOHR also sincerely commend the strenuous efforts put forth by the governments of Nigeria and Switzerland, international organizations such as the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and other local NGOs in securing the safe release of these girls so they could be reunited with their families.
After several months of lengthy negotiations with members of Boko Haram, the extremist group safely freed 82 schoolgirls in exchange for the release of five of their members who were imprisoned by the Nigerian government. The girls are currently receiving medical assistance and checkup before they are finally reunited with their families who are anxious for their return after more than three years in Boko Haram custody. Negotiations were conducted by experts from the ICRC, officials of the Nigerian and Switzerland governments and with the help from some local NGOs in the region. But concerns still loom around as there are over 100 other girls still missing and believed to be with the group.
The 82 schoolgirls along with about 276 others of their schoolmates were kidnaped when Boko Haram militants raided their dormitory in Borno State, Northeastern Nigeria in April 2014. Their abduction gained international attention when the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls took off on social media, where it was promoted by Michelle Obama and other celebrities. Since then, more than 20 girls were released after negotiations with the ICRC and others have tried to escape from captivity, but about 174 girls are still been held by the militant group. The extremist group has equally abducted several women and children including girls and boys.
IGOHR strongly condemns the abduction of these schoolgirls and others and alleged that they could have been subjected to torture, sexual abuse, inhumane and degrading treatment which are totally unacceptable under international law and international humanitarian law. This could be proven from sources who confirm that two of the girls who were recently released were physically injured which are signs they may have been abused physically. Other confirmations from those who escaped from Boko Haram custody said they were forced to marry members of the group and were sometimes raped or sexually harassed. Most of those abducted have been indoctrinated, and trained to fight with the group while others are forced to be suicide bombers.
IGOHR reiterates that such treatment of captives or civilians who do not take part in hostilities by an armed group is a total violation of the rights of these persons as enshrined in international human rights laws and international humanitarian treaties. The 1949 Four Geneva Conventions and the 1984 United Nations Convention against Torture clearly prohibit the cruel and ill-treatment of civilians or persons held captive during times of armed conflict but who are not taking part in the conflict. Hence, IGOHR is deeply concerned about the safety of the remaining girls and other captives still being held by the militant group.
Book Haram a militant group – classified as a terrorist group by the US and the European Union – has been tried to form an Islamic caliphate in northern Nigeria in order to spread its negative ideology. Their seven-years insurgency has claim the lives of more than 15,000 civilians and has displaced over two million others both internally or as refugees in neighboring countries. They’ve carried out several suicide bomb attacks within and outside Nigeria to instill fear and terror in the region. The group has faced fierce opposition from armed forces of the Nigerian, Cameroonian and Tchad governments who are fighting hard to prevent the terrorist group from expanding its territory in the region.
IGOHR warmly welcomes the safe release of these 82 Chibok schoolgirls and applaud the sincere endeavors of all those involved in the negotiations. IGOHR also calls on the Nigerian government to increase its efforts in securing the release of the remaining schoolgirls and others still held hostage by the Boko Haram group and to ensure that these persons are reunited with their families. IGOHR further urge the UN Security Council and the African Union to work collaboratively with the Nigerian government and its allied forces to stop the advancement of Boko Haram and end terrorism in the region.