On Thursday, October 13, twenty one girls who were kidnapped by Boko Haram more than two years before were released from captivity. In April of 2016, the terrorist group Boko Haram snuck in and kidnapped two hundred seventy six girls from the ages of sixteen to eighteen from their boarding school in Nigeria, a country in West Africa.The girls had been sleeping when the kidnapping happened.
Since this kidnapping, the Nigerian government has argued and negotiated with Boko Haram in order to try and save as many girls as possible. The Boko Haram group, in league with ISIS since 2015, released twenty-one of the girls after lengthy negotiations. The released young women told us that they were released after the Red Cross showed up with a list of girls to be freed. The girls were then loaded into vehicles and driven toward a Nigerian border town. When the vehicles broke down, the girls were told which direction to go and were forced to walk for two days before arriving in the town where they contacted Nigerian government officials.
According to CNN, the negotiations with Boko Haram have been fruitful. It took two years and an unknown amount of money to get the twenty one girls to freedom. CNN says there are even reports that a Nigerian Minister by the name of Alhaji Lai Mohammed traded captured Boko Haram soldiers for the girls. However it’s been reported eighty-three girls who are still under the control of Boko Haram who wish to return home. The other one hundred and fourteen reportedly wish to stay with their captors.
Since their imprisonment in 2014, the girls have been forced to choose between joining the terrorist movement or become slaves to Boko Haram. The girls, who were mostly Christian, were forced to convert to Islam and were also starved. Fifty-seven girls escaped almost immediately after capture. It took about a year for one girl named Aminah Ali to escape through the woods with her four-month-old baby and new husband.
The Nigerian government says they are doing everything they can to get the girls home to their families, but due to wars with ISIS, it has been hard. Luckily, an organization has been fighting for these girls since day one. The campaign is called #BringBackOurGirls and iconic women in the United States, like Michelle Obama and Ellen DeGeneres, have taken the pledge to help out and spread awareness.