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World News

UK Government 'appalled' over case of Christian captive Leah Sharibu

by Cara Bentley

The condition of a young woman in Nigeria who was captured by a faction of jihadist group Boko Haram a year ago has been raised by an MP in the House of Lords. 

Leah Sharibu, 16, was abducted, along with 109 other school girls in February 2018 from Dapchi in Yobe State, Nigeria. 

Five were reportedly killed and the other 104 returned from captivity the following month. Sharibu was reportedly not released because she refused to convert to Islam. 

Last month, Nigerian press claimed that she was still alive but has had a baby by a Boko Haram commander. 

Lord David Alton of Liverpool, a member of the House of Lords, asked the Government in a written question what they have done to try to free her. 

He asked about: "what assessment they have made of reports of her enslavement, forced conversion and pregnancy; what actions they have taken to secure her release; and what response they received from the government of Nigeria when they raised her situation with them."

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, the Government's Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion and Belief, replied on Tuesday: "The UK has made repeated calls for the release of all those abducted by Boko Haram and Islamic State West Africa (ISWA), including Leah Sharibu. 

"We are appalled by and condemn her reported enslavement, forced conversion and pregnancy. In 2018, we offered expertise to help the Nigerian Government in their search for Leah and the other schoolgirls abducted from Dapchi, Borno State. We continue to use public messaging and our engagement with the Government of Nigeria to help secure the release of Leah and all those abducted by the insurgent groups. The Government of Nigeria have assured us that they are making all efforts to secure her return."

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