The International Committee of the Red Cross is coordinating negotiations between the Nigerian government and Boko Haram militants in an effort to bring an estimated 220 kidnapped girls home to their families. The girls were captured from a school in Chibok in April.
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan originally said that the government would not negotiate with terrorists, but it seems that the government is quietly working with Boko Haram to negotiate an exchange, likely the release of terrorist prisoners for the safe return of the girls.
The Red Cross did not say outright that it was coordinating the talks, but hinted that it was acting as a mediator. "We have a dialogue with all the different parties, and if there is any way we can help as a neutral humanitarian organisation, we will,” the Red Cross said in a statement.
Nigerian rights activist Fed Eno confirmed that the Red Cross and Nigerian government have been working closely together. "There have been two or three ICRC people at each meeting - international staff rather than Nigerians - and they accompany the government security agents to the various prisons and detention centres to identify the people that Boko Haram want released," he said.
The girls have been in captivity for five months and their families are anxious for their return. Mall Abu, the father of one of the kidnapped girls said, “Suppose these were the daughters of someone important; would they still be in the forest after 90 days.”
Publication date: September 19, 2014