Despite fears that they would not be seen again, a video released by the Nigerian extremist group Boko Haram appears to show a group of girls kidnapped by them two years ago.
CNN reports a video, apparently taken in December, possibly as part of negotiations between Nigeria and Boko Haram, shows 15 girls and identifies them as students abducted from a school in the village of Chibok. Parents identified some of them upon seeing the footage, which was given to the Nigerian government. It is unclear exactly who gave them the video.
Each of the girls is dressed in Muslim hijab and long robes. An off-camera voice asks their names, to which they answer and explain that they were taken from the Chibok Government Secondary School. There are no apparent signs of maltreatment.
The video is the first image of the girls seen since 2014 when about 100 girls were seen in the video. In total, 276 were taken from the village, and most are still missing. Since the kidnapping 57 have escaped.
Amnesty International estimates as many as 2000 children have been kidnapped by Boko Haram since 2014.
The Boko Haram, an Islamist group that aligns itself with ISIS, claimed responsibility for the April 2014 kidnapping of the girls. However, abductions of women and girls continued for the purpose of forcing them into marriages and human trafficking, according to statements from the group’s leader Abubakar Skekau. Others have been brainwashed into fighting for the group, including participating in suicide bombings, according to at least one of the escapees.
The incident touched off the global #BringBackOurGirls social media campaign and spawned criticism of the Nigerian government and President Goodluck Jonathan for not doing enough to negotiate the release of the girls.
Some family members are still hoping for the return of their children.
“We have heard a lot of stories before but this video confirms that they are alive. The government should negotiate with Boko Haram,” Yana Galang told CNN, although she did not see her daughter in the video. “I didn’t see my daughter but I now have more hope that she is alive,” she tells us and her friends. “You can see what is yours on the screen but you can’t get it. All we want is our daughters.”
On Thursday, the anniversary of the kidnappings, Nigerians marched in the nation’s major cities demanding that more be done to bring the girls back. “Boko Haram has achieved its aim. They say they don’t want us to have Western education and our children don’t,” said Yakubu Nkeki, leader of a support group of parents of the kidnapped girls told the Associated Press.
However, the Nigerian military has pointed out some advances against Boko Haram, saying insurgent strongholds in northeast Nigeria have been destroyed and many members of the group have been killed.