The United Nations on Monday celebrated the release of 82 Nigerian high school students after more than three years of captivity in the hands of the extremist group Boko Haram and urged their families not to reject them.
The girls, kidnapped in 2014 from a school in Chibok, northeast of Nigeria, were released on Saturday in exchange for members of the Boko Haram detained after an agreement with the Islamist group.
One of the released girls was accompanied by a boy under two, according to a military official.
“We call on all Nigerians, including the families and local communities of the liberated youth, to fully integrate them and provide them with the necessary support to ensure their reintegration into society,” said UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric.
Boko Haram’s leader, Abubakar Shekau, had sworn he would sell the girls as sex slaves or force them to marry their fighters.
Staff members of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), which provides health services to women, are helping young women with “reproductive and psychosocial assistance,” Dujarric said.
He did not say whether they offered some of the girls to have an abortion.
“Unfortunately we have seen this in many parts of the world: rape victims are rejected by their communities,” added Dujarric.
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari vowed on Sunday that he would “directly supervise” efforts to ensure the well-being of young women.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said it had “facilitated the safe return” of girls as a “neutral intermediary” six months after 21 other girls from Chibok were released with support from the ICRC and the Swiss government.