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4/14/2024 Nigeria (International Christian Concern) — Ten years ago today, the Islamic extremist group Boko Haram broke into the Government Girls Secondary School in the village of Chibok in northeastern Nigeria and kidnapped 276 teenage schoolgirls, most of whom were Christian at the time.

The event shocked the world, and the campaign to see them freed trended on social media as the #BringBackOurGirls. Fifty-seven girls escaped shortly after the kidnapping. From 2016 to 2018, negotiations and military rescues led to another 108 girls finding freedom. In the last two years, another 20 of the girls — now women — have been rescued.

Today, 91 of the “Chibok girls” remain missing. Official updates on the government’s efforts to free the remaining women have all but stopped. Many of these women were forced to marry their abductors and have children of their own while living in Boko Haram’s camps in the Sambisa Forest.

Not all of those who have escaped are free. The BBC recently reported that some of the women continue to live with their captors in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state, where Chibok is located. The couples live in housing provided by the state’s governor.

Though the news has distressed the women’s parents, many of the women who were married to the militants as teenagers have demanded to remain with their husbands. Although their husbands have gone through deradicalization programs and the women have publicly said their decision to remain with their husbands is their own, not everyone believes the women are truly free.

“Some people in Chibok are saying: ‘How is it possible after the rescue of the girls they are still remaining in the Muslim faith?’” Yakubu Nkeki, chairman of the Chibok parents’ association, told the BBC.

Though news of the Chibok kidnappings galvanized support for the Christian girls on social media, similar mass kidnappings occurring today in Nigeria barely make a blip.

In early March, Boko Haram gunmen kidnapped 400 people from an IDP (Internally Displaced Person) camp in Borno. Days later, armed nomadic herders attacked a school in Kuriga, Kaduna state, kidnapping at least 287 students and teachers. At least 130 of these students have returned to their families.

Boko Haram and militant Islamic Fulani contribute to the continued recommendation for Nigeria to be designated as a Country of Particular Concern (CPC) by the U.S. Department of State. This designation would require the United States to address religious persecution in Nigeria that has caused the deaths of more than 50,000 Christians during the past 15 years, with Christians dying every two hours on average.

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