Nigeria: Uncertain prospects for Boko Haram survivors

Oludolapo Osinbajo, left, wife of the Vice President of Nigeria, consoling one of the 21 Chibok Girls released from captivity in Abuja, Nigeria, 13 October 2016 © EPA/STR
L: In May 2014, the Association of Nigerian Women in Kenya staged a protest against the slow response by the Nigerian Government to the abduction of 270 school girls from their village of Chibok in northeastern Nigeria. The hashtag #bringbackourgirls garnered worldwide support © EPA/DAI KUROKAWA. R: A mother weeping during a vigil in Abuja, Nigeria, on the one year anniversary of the school girls’ abduction © EPA/STR

A long journey to recovery

For the UN Special Rapporteurs on sale of children, Maud de Boer-Buquicchio, on slavery, Urmila Bhoola, and on the right to health, Dainius Pûras, “release is just a first step in the long journey of recovery and rehabilitation.”

L: UN rights experts pose for the camera with officers of the Kuje Detention Centre located on the outskirts of the Nigerian capital, Abuja, after a visit of the facility. R: Here, the UN human rights experts visited with UNICEF the Dalory Camp for internally displaced people in Maiduri, January 2016 © OHCHR

Understanding the gender dimension

Recent years have seen an increase in terrorist groups systematically subjecting women and girls to forced marriages and sexual slavery, but also using them as human shields, suicide bombers, spies, messengers, smugglers, recruiters and combatants.

What the future holds

As some participants pointed out, “for some of these victims, [captivity] is the only reality they know and have experienced. Education and self-esteem of women and girls, men and boys is crucial to redress inequalities in the region.”

Twenty-one of the 270 Chibok Girls who were released from Boko Haram captivity in October 2016. Over the past three years some of the survivors have come home accompanied by infants born during their captivity © EPA/STR

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