Nigerian Woman Who’d Been Among Hundreds Of Kidnapped Chibok Schoolgirls, Escapes 7 Years Of Captivity
The terrorist group abducted 276 girls from a boarding school in the northeastern Nigerian town of Chibok in 2014.
February 01, 2021 at 2:21 pm
A Nigerian girl, who was among the hundreds of school children kidnapped by Boko Haram in the town of Chibok, escaped after nearly seven years of being held captive and communicated with her family on Thursday.
Halima Ali Maiyanga spoke to her family on the phone, telling them that she was able to flee during a Nigerian military offensive against Boko Haram fighters in the country’s northeast, according to The Wall Street Journal.
“Halima was in tears. She told us she was with the military and needed some clothes because she had nothing,” her brother, Muhammad Maiyanga, said. “We never thought we’d see her again.”
Halima's father, Ali, said the family was crying uncontrollably when they spoke to the 22-year-old, who called from a phone belonging to a security official.
"She asked me, 'Is this my daddy?' and she started crying. The crying was [so] much and I couldn't hear her very well. I was crying, too. I never expected to hear from her again," Ali told CNN. "The whole family is so happy. Our house is full of people who are rejoicing with us."
It was a familiar feeling for the family in 2016 when Halima's sister, Maryam, escaped from Boko Haram. As she was rescued by troops at that time, Maryam brought along the baby boy she birthed after being forced to marry one of the commanders.
Halima told her family that she was one of the hundreds of captives who were able to flee during the latest military operation.
The terrorist group abducted 276 girls from a boarding school in the northeastern Nigerian town of Chibok in 2014, as Blavity previously reported. Amid the global outrage that followed, organizations such as The Chibok Association were formed to help find the children. Social media users also brought attention to the tragedy using the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls.
More than 100 of the girls were freed in 2016 and 2017 after negotiations with the government. But dozens more are still missing after the latest rescue effort.
Emmanuel Ogebe, a Nigerian human rights lawyer, said many parents are still waiting to confirm the identity of the girls who escaped with Halima.
"Information currently available to us indicates that there are other escapees with the army whom parents are anxiously waiting to identify," Ogebe said in a statement to ABC. "We spoke and confirmed from Mr. Ali Maiyanga moments ago that he in fact spoke with his daughter today, who informed him that she along with others were rescued. Her sister who escaped four years ago and is on school break was overjoyed at the news of her sibling's escape."
Another parent, Malam Madu Mutta, said the families have been told that the girls are staying with security operatives.
"We are yet to know the numbers, but we are happy that some of them escaped," Mutta told reporters. "So many other parents and relatives are coming from Chibok with hopes of meeting their daughters. Again, hope is risen that we can have some of them back again."