Nigeria’s recently rescued Chibok girls have begun a rehabilitation process away from home that could last between nine and 12 months, Nigeria’s health ministry and other aid groups confirmed. The process has previously received criticism as another lengthy detention for the girls.
Government officials on May 6 secured the release of 82 schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram extremists three years ago in exchange for some detained militants. The girls on Sunday visited the presidential villa and Monday met with Health Minister Isaac Adewole.
Boade Akinola, the federal ministry of health spokeswoman, said the federal government donated drugs and other necessary items to a clinic where the girls are receiving care.
Eugene Kongnyuy, the deputy representative of the United Nation’s Population Fund in Nigeria, said the government handed over the girls to the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and the UN agency.
“An emergency team of psychosocial counselors and health professionals have been deployed to assist with the profiling of the girls,” the UN agency said in a statement. “The program is tailor-made to meet each girl’s peculiar needs of counseling to help overcome the trauma endured after being held under captivity for more than three years.”
Kongnyuy said the rehabilitation process, which includes psychosocial counseling, would last between nine months to a year. The girls also have the option either to continue their education by preparing for the national high school exam or begin a skill acquisition session.
The Nigerian government in October secured the release of 21 other Chibok girls. The girls followed a similar rehabilitation process, but several parents and some advocacy groups criticized how long it took. The mother of one rescued Chibok girl who was found wandering in a forest repeatedly complained she was rarely allowed to see her daughter or speak to her over the phone. Amnesty International on Monday also called on the government not to put the girls through lengthy screening sessions.
Kongnyuy told me the girls choose whether or not they want to go through the rehabilitation process. They also receive regular visits from family members and can go home, he said.
Bukky Shonibare, a strategic leadership member of the Bring Back Our Girls campaign, said the length of the rehabilitation process is considerable given how long the girls spent with the extremists. She told me one rescued girl who wasn’t from the Chibok community stabbed one of her parents following her immediate return home.
“It’s one thing to take them out of the den of their captors, but it’s another thing to take them out from the need for them,” she said.
Some cultural factors also shape the extent of the process, Kongnyuy said. For example, he said, they spend time counseling girls who got pregnant during their captivity to learn to accept their children. Some girls said they couldn’t return home with the children since it’s generally still unacceptable for girls in their region to get pregnant before marriage.
While the rehabilitation process is critical, Shonibare said the groups responsible for the girls’ care can find more ways either to get the parents involved or keep them updated, she said. Such a move would prevent the parents from feeling like “there’s another pseudo-kidnapping of the children.”
Courtesy: WORLD News Service
Publication date: May 15, 2017