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World News

At least 1 abducted Chibok girl free from Boko Haram captivity in Nigeria

by Kelly Valencia

Christian persecution watchdog Open Doors has confirmed at least one of the approximately 200 Chibok schoolgirls - abducted by Boko Haram seven years ago - has escaped captivity. 

It is understood dozens of girls - not all necessarily from Chibok - who were being held hostage have managed to break free during an offensive by the Nigerian Army in the Sambisa forest. 

"One of the Chibok girls who has escaped was able to speak to her father over the phone and has been clearly identified," said Illia Djadi, Open Doors' senior analyst. 

In 2014, the abduction drew the world's attention to the situation in Nigeria sparking the #BringBackOurGirls campaign.

Boko Haram kidnapped 276 mostly Christian students and drove them to the Sambisa Forest. While some managed to escape captivity, at least 100 have not yet been accounted for.

Speaking to Premier, Djadi said it is crucial to carry on raising awareness about what Boko Haram is doing in Nigeria. 

"It happened before Chibok girls, and then we heard about Chibok girls, and it's still happening after the kidnapping. Mass kidnapping of girls is a common issue affecting vulnerable communities, affecting innocent people. They are defenceless." 

"Let's continue to raise awareness so that people can be aware of what is happening in Nigeria, how the level of persecution faced by Christians is in Nigeria. It can be violent attacks and killings. But on a daily basis, people are also suffering discrimination, stigmatisation,"Djadi said. 

Henrietta Blyth, CEO of Open Doors UK and Ireland, said: "The news of girls escaping from Boko Haram - including the schoolgirl from Chibok - is a ray of hope that others still in captivity may regain their freedom too.

"The abduction of the Chibok girls seven years ago was a painful illustration of the fact that women are especially vulnerable to persecution in Nigeria because of both their faith and gender.  

"Even after escape, their painful journey is normally not yet over - they need to reintegrate into their community and cope with the trauma of their captivity."

Urging Christians to pray, Djadi said local church leaders need support, wisdom and legal help to challenge the authorities as communities are "defenseless" and "don't have the necessary resources to do it."

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