The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has expressed delight at the release of the 82 of the Chibok schoolgirls and pledged to help reunite them with their parents.
The girls were among those abducted by Boko Haram insurgents on April 14, 2014.
UNICEF Nigeria Acting Representative Pernille Ironside in a statement said the girls’ release was “heartening”.
Ironside said “it is heartening to know that the girls will be returning to their families who have been waiting for this day.
“They will face a long and difficult process to rebuild their lives after the indescribable horror and trauma they have suffered at the hands of Boko Haram.
“UNICEF is on standby to support the Nigerian authorities to provide the comprehensive psychosocial support and other specialized services needed.’’
UNICEF would help reunite the girls with their families and make sure they can continue their education in a safe environment.
“Already staff at a UNICEF supported health clinic have been supporting immediate efforts to identify the girls and conduct medical check-ups before their onward transport.
“UNICEF calls on Boko Haram to end all grave violations against children, especially the abduction of children and the cexual abuse and forced marriage of girls.’’
Ironside said UNICEF commended the Federal Government for this important achievement in helping to protect children impacted by the conflict in northeast Nigeria.
According to her, however, the UN children’s agency remained deeply concerned for the thousands of women and children still held in captivity by Boko Haram.
The UNICEF official said greater efforts must be made to bring them all to safety and home to their families.
“UNICEF has a comprehensive plan to help children who have been affected by the conflict in the Lake Chad Basin and works with national authorities to support hundreds of children and women who have escaped or been released by Boko Haram.
“Every child is unique and requires different levels of support, so there is no standard formula or defined timeframe for these children to recover.
“UNICEF is committed to doing whatever it takes, as long as it takes, to help these children recover a sense of normalcy with our available resources,” Ironside said.
The 82 girls were released to international negotiators who have been working in collaboration with the Federal government for their safe return since they were kidnapped in April 2014.