World in View: Nigerian girls freed

June 30, 2017

From the July-August 2017 issue of News & Letters

Following long negotiations, the fundamentalist cult Boko Haram (Western education is forbidden) released 82 Chibok schoolgirls it kidnapped in 2014. They arrived in the capital, Abuja, May 7. In return, the Nigerian government released five Boko Haram leaders.

The mass kidnapping in April 2014 gave rise to a world outcry and “Bring Back Our Girls” campaign. Earlier, 21 young women had been released through negotiations; 58 managed to escape on their own. Over 100 remain in captivity. Some are reported to have died of illness, snake bites or brutality.


This is a significant, if partial victory, but questions remain. The 21 captives previously released are being held in secret by the government. They have had only minimal contact with their families, supposedly for “security” reasons. The depth of mistrust indicates deep divisions in Nigerian society.

The larger question of Boko Haram’s insurgency also remain—over 15,000 people killed, and two million made refugees, largely women and children. Thousands of women remain captive. The group has split, with one faction more committed to ISIS, to which Boko Haram pledged allegiance in 2015.

Boko Haram also suffered military defeats. Nigerian government forces are joined in the campaign against it by troops from Cameroon, Niger, and Chad; by U.S. military advisers; and by hundreds of private military contractors. This is the fanatic, confused, suspicious, and corporate face of modern warfare.

–Gerry Emmett

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