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Wednesday, August 17, 2016

"I Just Want To Go Home", Says First Chibok Girl Rescued From Boko Haram


The first of more than 200 abducted Chibok schoolgirls to
be rescued from Boko Haram after two years in captivity in
northeast Nigeria said on Tuesday in her first interview that
she just wants to go home.
Amina Ali and her four-month-old baby were rescued in
May near Damboa in Borno state by soldiers and a civilian
vigilante group, more than two years after being kidnapped
by the Islamist militants from a school in Chibok in
northeast Nigeria.
After her rescue sparked a blaze of global media attention,
the 21-year-old and her child have since been hidden away
in a house in the capital Abuja for what the Nigerian
government has called a "restoration process ".
"I just want to go home - I don't know about school, " she told
the Thomson Reuters Foundation in an exclusive interview.
"I will decide about school when I get back, but I have no idea
when I will be going home, " Ali said, speaking softly while
staring at the ground.
Boko Haram kidnapped 219 girls from their secondary
school in Chibok in April 2014, as part of an insurgency
which began in 2009 to set up an Islamic state in the north
that has killed some 15,000 people and displaced more than
2 million.
Some girls escaped in the melee but parents of those still
missing accused former president Goodluck Jonathan,
Nigeria's then leader, of not doing enough to find their
daughters, whose disappearance sparked a global
campaign #bringbackourgirls.
Ali spoke to the Thomson Reuters Foundation days after the
Islamist group published a video showing dozen of the girls.
In the video published by the militants on social media on
Sunday, a masked man stands behind a group of the girls,
and says some of their classmates have been killed in air
strikes.
While Ali had not heard about the video, she
said Boko Haram had told the abducted girls that everyone
was looking for them.
"I think about them a lot - I would tell them to be hopeful and
prayerful," Ali said. "In the same way God rescued me, he will
also rescue them."
NOT AFRAID
Ali, who was found by the army in May along with a
suspected Boko Haram militant, Mohammed Hayatu ,
claiming to be her husband, said she was unhappy to have
been separated from the father of her four-month-old baby
girl.
"I want him to know that I am still thinking about him, " Ali said,
relaxing and lifting her gaze off the ground only to
breastfeed her child when she was brought into the room to
feed.
"Just because we got separated, that does not mean that I
don't think about him, " Ali added.
Ali's mother, Binta Ali spent two months with her daughter
before going home to Chibok. She said last month she
feared for Ali's future.
She said her daughter had wanted to further her education
before being kidnapped, but now she was afraid of school
and wanted a sewing machine to start a business making
clothes.
Ali told her mother earlier this month that the girls, who are
being held in Sambisa forest, were starved and resorted to
eating raw maize, and that some had died in captivity,
suffered broken legs or gone deaf after being too close to
explosions.
Her mother said she had observed a positive change in Ali
since her rescue, as she now slept much more peacefully
than she had ever done before being abducted.
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