Sunday Tribune

Chibok girls having medical tests


LAGOS: The 82 Chibok girls, recently released by Boko Haram in exchange for the release of their members from detention, are undergoing medical screening, according to Nigeria’s Minister of Women Affairs and Social Developmen­t Aisha Jumai Alhassan.

Alhassan said some of the girls needed surgery, after which they would join the other 24 girls in the rehabilita­tion and reintegrat­ion programme.

She said the medical screening should be finished in two to three weeks, but that photograph­s of the 82 girls had been sent to families in Chibok for identifica­tion, while some families who had identified their daughters had met up with them in Abuja.

The minister said the government had been taking good care of the 24 previously-released girls and four babies.

“When the parents of the first set of Chibok girls arrived in Abuja in October last year, the first thing we asked them and the girls was to tell us exactly what they wanted. Both the parents and the girls told us they wanted the girls to return to school and be cared for by the federal government in Abuja. That is why we designed the nine-month reintegrat­ion programme.”

Denying allegation­s that parents of the 21 Chibok girls were not being allowed access to their daughters, Alhassan said that as soon as they emerged from medical care, the girls travelled to Chibok for Christmas and spent two weeks with their families.

“Reports that we are preventing parents from seeing their children are absolutely not true. The girls speak to their families every weekend and the parents visit.

“We will only grant access to their parents, not community members, as we do not want people to keep asking them questions that will make them relive the horrible experience­s they had while in captivity,’’ the minister said.

“We are negotiatin­g to have the rest of the girls released. We will not stop until they are all back.

“We have no regrets about exchanging Boko Haram detainees for our daughters. We will do it again if necessary,” she said.

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