The recent recovery of two abducted girls from the clutches of the Islamist group Boko Haram prompted rejoicing and gave hope to grieving families still waiting to learn whether their daughters are alive.
Nigeria’s Civilian Joint Task Force vigilante group discovered Amina Ali Nkeki, pregnant and carrying a 4-month-old baby, on the outskirts of the Sambisa Forest. Some early reports incorrectly claimed the Nigerian military found her.
Yakubu Nkeki, the teen's uncle and chairman of the Chibok Parents Forum, told International Christian Cocern, 19-year-old Amina was abducted in the mass kidnapping from a government school in the Chibok area on April 14, 2014.
That event triggered worldwide outrage against Boko Haram, and a campaign called #BringBackOurGirls went viral with high-profile supporters including first lady Michelle Obama. More than 200 of the girls remain missing.
Amina is in Nigeria military custody but was reunited with the rest of her family late last week. Her father died while she was captive.
It was “very emotional and exhilarating as the mother embraced Amina and wept profusely, overwhelmed with joy for seeing her daughter again,” witnesses told ICC.
Nigerian military officials detained and are interrogating a man found with Amina who claimed to be her husband, CNN reported.
President Muhammadu Buhari welcomed Amina home, expressed sorrow over her suffering, and promised the “government can and will do everything possible to ensure that the rest of her life takes a completely different course,” NAIJ.com reported. In addition to saying she “must” be able to finish her education, Buhari promised her the best available medical and psychological care and anything else she needs to “be reintegrated fully into society.”
ICC Africa regional manager Troy Augustine said for victims of Boko Haram, getting proper care can be a struggle and some have faced ostracization upon returning home.
“Psychosocial trauma can continue even after they’ve been rescued,” he said.
Several groups criticized the government for politicizing her recovery.
Shortly before Amina’s rescue, a Nigerian military operation in the forest liberated 97 women and children from the Islamist group. One of the rescued girls, Serah Luka, was initially thought to have come from Chibok. While she did attend school there, Boko Haram kidnapped Serah from her Madagali home in a separate incident, according to Vanguard Nigeria.
“However, the same way we rejoice over the return of the Chibok girl, so also is our joy over this one,” Bukky Shonibare of the #BringBackOurGirls campaign told CNN.
“We shouldn't focus on whether she is one of the Chibok girls or not,” Army Brig. General Abubakar Rabe said. “The important thing is that we are pursuing Boko Haram and rescuing human beings on a daily basis. We should be allowed to concentrate on rescuing other people in our operations.”
The recovery of both girls increased hopes that as military operations continue, more victims will be found, including the remaining Chibok schoolgirls. According to Amina, a few of her classmates died but most are being held captive in the Sambisa Forest.
“There is some hope that more of these rescues may be coming in the next few days and weeks. Which is quite different from what we had all assumed had happened,” Augustine said. “Many experts thought the girls had been sold into sex slavery and dispersed.”
Courtesy: WORLD News Service
Publication date: May 31, 2016