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Eighty-two of Nigeria’s Chibok schoolgirls are free thanks to a prisoner swap between the Nigerian government and Boko Haram. The release is the biggest since the armed group swarmed a school in northern Nigeria in April 2014, kidnapping 276 girls. News of the deal has brought both happiness and anxiety as families wait to hear if their relatives are among those freed.
Aisha Yesufu, of the #BringBackOurGirls campaign, told Al Jazeera that counseling and rehabilitation must now be a priority.
"At the end of the day, we want to have world leaders out of every one of them so that they can be what the terrorists did not want them to be," Yesufu said.
But critics of the campaign say the girls have become too famous to ever truly be free. Writing in the New York Times, Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani said: "The campaign made them famous and, as a result, precious to the jihadists. The military says it can't guarantee their safety if they go home, so they remain essentially prisoners of the state."
Peter Joseph, a family member of one of 21 girls released by Boko Haram in October 2016, agrees. Those girls are in a government rehabilitation camp where they rarely see their families.
"I think it’s another kind of imprisonment," Joseph told The Stream.
So when it comes to rehabilitation, what is the best way forward? And can the Chibok girls ever really be free?
Joining The Stream:
Brother of abducted girl
Bukky Shonibare @BukkyShonibare
Strategic team member, Bring Back Our Girls
Mental health counselor
Femi Adesina @FemAdesina
Media Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhar
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