Nigeria must negotiate release of 195 Chibok girls: Group

Girls kidnapped nearly three years ago

JOHANNESBURG — Nigeria’s government and military are not doing enough to ensure the release of 195 kidnapped Chibok schoolgirls held by Boko Haram Islamic extremists for nearly three years, the Bring Back Our Girls group said Tuesday.

It called for speedy negotiations to bring them home before next week’s third anniversary of the mass abduction that outraged the world.

The movement also asked why two dozen of the Chibok girls freed last year have been held for months of alleged rehabilitation instead of being reunited with their families.

“It remains a puzzle to us that even their parents are not very informed on what the program of rehabilitation that the federal government is allegedly implementing seeks to achieve,” it said.

The group published a letter sent to the government in January, saying it has never been answered. “We are not satisfied with the conduct of the federal government and the military establishment,” the letter said.

Nigerian officials did not respond to requests for comment.

Boko Haram’s mass abduction of 276 girls from a boarding school in April 2014 brought promises to help free them from around the world.

Dozens quickly escaped, and 21 were freed in October through negotiations with Boko Haram mediated by the Swiss government and the International Committee of the Red Cross.

The government denied a ransom was paid and that it freed some detained Boko Haram fighters in exchange for the girls.

At that time, officials said they were pressing on with negotiations and expected the release of a second group of 83 girls “very soon.” No more have been freed.

Michelle Faul, The Associated Press

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