5/18/16 Washington, D.C. (International Christian Concern) – One of the missing Chibok girls is safe with her family after differing reports from Nigerian military officials and from local witnesses confirmed her rescue.
One account of the news comes from a member of the Civilian Joint Task Force (JTF), a vigilante group assembled to counter the Boko Haram insurgency. The witness reportedly identified Amina Ali Nkeki wandering near the edge of the Sambisa Forest, the location analysts believe contains Boko Haram’s final hideouts. Sources says Amina was found with a baby.
"She was saying … all the Chibok girls are still there in the Sambisa except six of them that have already died,” a Chibok community spokesman told the BBC.
The Nigerian military, however, said that their rescue operation brought in Falmata Mbalala at Baale village near Damboa, where troops found her. The Nigerian information minister and an army spokesman corroborated this account.
One Found Two Years Later
On April 14, 2014, Boko Haram gunmen stormed a government school in Chibok Local Government Area (LGA), in Borno State, northern Nigeria, abducting 276 mostly Christian teenage schoolgirls. Shortly after the incident, dozens of girls escaped into the surrounding bush, but more than 200 remain missing more than two years later.
Since 2009, Boko Haram has waged a bloody and relentless insurgency in northern Nigeria, historically targeting Christians for murder, kidnapping, rape and church destruction. Over the past year, Nigerian military successes against the terror group have pushed them to adopt guerrilla tactics, such as suicide bombings, against more general, populated targets.
Witnesses regularly report young girls as the perpetrators of such attacks, leading to fears that the Islamists are employing some of the Chibok girls for these deadly missions.
Hope Amidst Crushing Grief?
Today’s news offers yet another shred of hope for aggrieved parents praying for the return of their daughters.
In addition, last month, CNN released a video establishing “proof of life” for 15 of the missing girls that parents identified. However, the date and location of where the video was filmed proved impossible to determine.
The CNN report represented yet another twist in the torturous turn in the rollercoaster of expectation and pain through which hundreds of heartbroken parents have lived for the past two years. Since the abduction, at least 18 parents have died from heart-related illnesses linked to stress about the tragedy.
When International Christian Concern (ICC) met with the father of one of the missing girls, Naomi, in August 2015, he told us his family has suffered through unimaginable pain.
“I have become very discouraged,” Yaga Lawan said. “I can hardly work. My wife has been unable to carry the hoe to the farm. She is almost empty.”
Lawan told us every time news surfaces suggesting the girls’ possible location, or politicians declare redoubled efforts to rescue them, his hopes rise. However, more than two years on, Lawan is still waiting – and the uncertainty feels like torture.
“I would rather know that she was dead than to live with this uncertainty and to imagine what she is going through,” Lawan told ICC. “If my daughter was dead ... people die. I pray every day that God will bring back my daughter. I pray that God Himself will mourn for me and bring back my daughter.”
Amina’s discovery represents welcomed hope while hundreds of other parents like Lawan wait in agony.
“ICC rejoices with the news of Amina being discovered. The tumultuous two years since her kidnapping have seen heightened hopes mixed with crushing despair that characterizes the fallout from persecution. We ask all concerned persons to continue to pray that more of the Chibok girls are found and, indeed, that all of Boko Haram’s captives would be released,” said ICC’s regional manager for Africa, Troy Augustine.