Six women, nine children escape from Boko Haram rebels after being held captive for months

The former hostages trekked for six days until they were rescued

Aisha Rimi
Tuesday 12 October 2021 18:47
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<p>More than 1,000 children have been kidnapped by Boko Haram since 2013</p>

More than 1,000 children have been kidnapped by Boko Haram since 2013

Six women and nine children abducted by Nigeria’s Boko Haram extremist rebels have escaped months of captivity in the northeastern state of Borno, said a state official.

The 15 former hostages met the Borno governor Babagana Zulum in the state’s capital, Maiduguri.

"Today is one of our happiest moments for us to see these young girls and women that were abducted by the insurgents," Mr Zulum said on Monday, attributing their freedom to "prayers and ongoing reconciliation and reintegration programmes" in Borno state.

Thousands have died and many others have been kidnapped due to the 10-year extremist insurgency.

The women and children were abducted in two separate incidents in October 2020 and May this year, when extremists attacked their villages in Borno and Adamawa states. Both states have been greatly affected by extremist violence over the years, Zuwaira Gambo, the commissioner for women’s affairs in Borno state said.

After their escape, the women and children hiked for six days through the Buni Yadi forest until they were discovered by security forces and brought back to safety in Borno state, said Ms Gambo.

Boko Haram and its offshoot the so-called Islamic State West Africa Province have targeted women and children in multiple attacks across north-east Nigeria.

More than 1,000 children have been kidnapped since 2013, including the 276 girls from Chibok in 2014, according to the UN development agency. More than 100 girls of the Chibok girls still remain missing.

"Abducted women have been subjected to violence and abuse and used as spies, fighters, and suicide bombers," the UNDP said in a 2020 report.

"Women who have escaped or been released are not always welcomed back to their communities and those returning from captivity or involvement with armed groups do not have access to the training, counselling and reintegration programmes that target men," said the report.

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