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“Stand strong to support them” – UN experts urge families and communities of the released 21 Chibok girls

A group of United Nations human rights experts today welcomed the release of 21 Chibok girls from Boko Haram captivity, and called on all Nigerians to fully support their immediate reintegration and rehabilitation.   

“While we commend the Nigerian authorities for the successful outcome of these negotiations, all institutions, together with the released girls’ communities and families must stand strong to support them in their recovery and reintegration and protect them from stigma, ostracisation and rejection,” said the UN Special Rapporteurs on sale of children, Maud de Boer-Buquicchio, on slavery, Urmila Bhoola, and on the right to health, Dainius  Pūras, who visited* Nigeria earlier this year. 

“The road to full recovery and rehabilitation may prove challenging and it is vital that their families and communities, as well as the Nigerian people stand in solidarity with the girls in the days, weeks and years to come,” they stressed.   

“The recently released girls may not be able to access to the services they need including, sexual and reproductive health services, information on remedies and livelihoods opportunities,” the experts warned, “so we urge all levels of Government: Federal, state and local, to take all the measures needed to provide these services not only to these girls but to all individuals who have been rescued from Boko Haram control. 

The human rights experts pointed out that providing this kind of support is not only a moral duty, but a legal obligation according to women and children’s rights provisions within international law. 

“We must not forget all other children and other victims, who continue to live in captivity under Boko Haram control, ” the experts said. Recalling that 197 girls are still missing of the 276 students abducted at gunpoint from their secondary school during a violent raid in the village of Chibok, in north-eastern Nigeria in April 2014, the experts remain deeply concerned about the plight of the girls still in captivity and their families.

In that regard, the UN Special Rapporteurs urged the Nigerian Government to swiftly take all necessary measures to locate them, ensure their safe return and recovery, and provide them with adequate assistance and protection. “Moreover,” they stressed, “Nigeria must hold the perpetrators accountable, while respecting international human rights norms and standards.”    “We would like to reiterate, as stated at the end of our joint visit, that a comprehensive approach to addressing challenges in the North East provides a good opportunity not only to reintegrate women and children affected by Boko Haram but also to strengthen the health and educational sectors which are crucial for peace, security and sustainable development in Nigeria,” the experts stressed. 

“We remind the authorities of the recommendations issued in our report on the joint visit to Nigeria in January 2016 and stand ready to provide further advice and support,” the Special Rapporteurs concluded. 

Distributed by APO on behalf of Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).