Today’s news reports claim the Nigerian government and Boko Haram have reached a truce, and that the girls kidnapped six months ago will be returned. I want to believe. I want this to be true. And as much as I want to believe, I know that parents and families of 200+ girls want so immeasurably more for this to be true, for their girls to return.
And yet — the girls’ home town of Chibok and surrounding areas have remained under attack by Boko Haram. More girls and women have been kidnapped during the six months since the Chibok kidnapping. And the government has been a highly unreliable party throughout the whole time, initially denying that the girls had been kidnapped, then verbally attacking their parents, and claiming successes that did not happen. One of today’s tweets refers to the unreliability of government statements:
The announcement of the deal for the girls’ release was made by the Nigerian government, but not by Boko Haram. Stories on BBC, Huffington Post, and Mother Jones reported the news. The Huffington Post article also gave a detailed and informative chronology of events since the kidnapping. Al Jazeera reported somewhat more cautiously:
“Sources told Al Jazeera that substantial progress had been reached in negotiations about the abducted girls but that no definite deal had been agreed.
“A senior adviser to Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan told Al Jazeera that the deal reached on Friday included the release of the girls, but that no date had been set and that the release was part of an “ongoing process”.
Is the government telling the truth now? And if it is, will the agreement hold or will it break down before the girls are released?
The Washington Post reported the official figures: 276 girls kidnapped from the Chibok school on April 14, and 57 or 61 escaped since then. That leaves 215 or 219 of the original schoolgirls still in captivity. And all of the others who were kidnapped before and after them.
On October 14, Medium published a dramatic, long-form story of escapes, as told by the girls who made it home. “They aren’t sure if this was just a thing that happened to them, or something that will define them forever,” the reporter writes. One of the girls talks about her friends still in captivity:
“’Their lives have already been spoiled,’ she tells me solemnly. ‘When they come back… Nothing, nothing can help them. They’ll never be the same.’”