Earlier this week, 21 of the 276 girls abducted by Boko Haram in April 2014 were rescued and reunited with their families.
Presidential spokesman Garba Shehu confirmed that their release followed negotiations between Nigeria’s government and Boko Haram brokered by Red Cross and Swiss government officials. The girls were exchanged for four Boko Haram prisoners.
The negotiations will continue as the release of 83 other girls who remain in captivity to the militant Islamist group remains in question. According to CNN sources, there are only 83 left to negotiate for because the 114 remaining have either died, been married off or become so radicalized that they don’t want to leave their kidnappers.
A tearful reunion was captured on film as the families of the girls celebrated their release. The parents spoke of their excitement in seeing their daughters again after more than two and a half years in separation and anxiety of whether they would ever see them again.
A father of one of the Chibok girls told The Associated Press, “When we heard they found some of the girls, and that our daughter was among them, we slept as if the day is not going to break. … We wanted the day to break quickly, to see if the government is going to call us, to come and see that our daughter was among them.”
Eleanor Nwadinobi, women and girls manager at the Nigeria Stability and Recognition Programme, told Al Jazeera the girls rescued will now undergo treatment to address their individual needs, including trauma counseling and health recovery.
According to Amnesty International, many of Boko Haram’s victims have undergone trauma such as victimization being used as sex slaves, fighters for the group and even as agents in suicide bombings.
Nigeria freed more than 500 women and children from a region held by the armed group in April this year.