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2 Years On From Chibok, What's Changed?

Photo: Getty
A female student stands in a burnt classroom at Maiduguri Experimental School, a private nursery, primary and secondary school burnt by the Islamist group Boko Haram to keep children away from school in Maiduguri, northeastern Nigeria.
Today marks two years to the day that 276 schoolgirls were kidnapped from the town of Chibok in Nigeria by terrorist group Boko Haram. As peacebuilding charity International Alert pointed out this morning, in an anniversary statement, "2 years ago, we demanded #BringBackOurGirls. Now we desperately need a #FutureForOurGirls."

What still needs to be done? Well, in the two years that have passed since the infamous kidnapping, the girls who have escaped (note the Guardian) have done so without the assistance of the Nigerian government, who are yet to coordinate a rescue mission that has been effective. As it stands, 219 of the Chibok girls are still missing.

While Chibok's victims might have made global headlines, International Alert – who have been working on conflict resolution in Nigeria since 2012 – also remind us that: "Since 2012, around 2,000 women and girls, and many boys have been abducted by Boko Haram. Many have suffered unimaginable physical, mental and sexual abuse." The scale of the problem is undeniable.

Parents of those who have been abducted are frustrated with the Nigerian Government. Earlier this year, CNN published a distressing video of missing Christian girls held in Boko Haram captivity. The girls were wearing hijabs and addressed the Nigerian government in a plea for their rescue.

The Guardian reports that "The video was provided by Boko Haram as a show of good faith, at the request of negotiators trying to secure the release of the girls." The video was shown to parents of the girls earlier this week for the first time, and they are now organising a protest to take place today in the Nigerian capital of Abuja.

The BBC report that the Nigerian government, which has changed administration since 2014, replacing President Goodluck Jonathan with President Muhammadu Buhari, has made "progress" in retaking towns captured by Boko Haram. The country's government also claim to be in "ongoing talks" with the terrorist group, according to the Guardian.
While Boko Haram continue to launch attacks in Nigeria, however – such as their February assault on the village of Dalori, in which more than 85 people were killed – those who have escaped the insurgent group are left traumatised and stigmatised.

"Women and girls released from captivity by Nigeria's insurgency group Boko Haram are often rejected by their own husbands, families and communities," write International Alert. "There is a fear the girls have been radicalised, and their children born of sexual violence ‘tainted’ by the bad blood of their fathers."

In a statement from International Alert's Senior Peacebuilding Advisor, Kimairis Toogood, the charity ask for better proficiency for the reintergration of Boko Haram escapees. “With more victims now returning from captivity, we are appealing to the international community and the Nigerian government to do more now to support efforts to re-integrate them, and ensure they can build a life for themselves and their children.”

You can read Refinery29's photo story on Boko Haram survivors, telling their stories of escape here.