After months of international negotiations, a deal has been brokered and 82 young women and girls, taken from their dormitories in the Nigerian town of Chibok in April 2014 and held captive in the ensuing years, were freed on Sunday, in exchange for the release of five Boko Haram military leaders, according to the Nigerian government.
A spokesperson for Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari gave credit to the Swiss government, several local and international NGOs, the International Committee of the Red Cross, and Nigeria’s military for negotiating the women’s release.
Last year, 21 of the estimated 220 girls (some reports have put that number closer to 300, but several dozen girls escaped shortly after being kidnapped) who disappeared were released and reunited with their families. 113 women and girls abducted at the same time are believed to remain prisoners of Boko Haram, according to Nigerian authorities.
The girls’ abduction sparked the robust “Bring Back Our Girls” social media campaign, which even went viral in the West, but none of the girls were reportedly freed until last October. Last month, Buhari announced his government was negotiating the release of all the captured girls. Boko Haram has reportedly kidnapped thousands of adults and children to little international outrage; the matter of the Chibok schoolgirls remains the highest-profile case.
According to presidential spokesperson Femi Adesina, the young women are in the care of the Nigerian government, whose officials will oversee their rehabilitation. Earlier today, according to the Washington Post, Buhari met with some of the survivors before heading to London to receive medical treatment.