The First Chibok Girl Has Been Rescued

by Lauren Holter

Two years after being kidnapped by Boko Haram, one Chibok girl has been rescued in Nigeria. She was found near the Sambisa Forest, close to the border with Cameroon in northeast Nigeria, where the 276 schoolgirls kidnapped in 2014 were thought to have been taken. She was reunited with her family after reportedly being identified by a vigilante fighter from the Civilian Joint Task Force, established to combat Boko Haram.

The girl, identified by the Associated Press as Amina Ali Nkeki, was reportedly found wandering in the forest. According to her uncle, the 19-year-old is pregnant and traumatized. She was reunited with her mother (her father died while she was held captive), and then reportedly taken to a military camp by the soldiers. The BBC reports that she came from Mbalala, just south of Chibok, where two dozen of the kidnapped girls were from.

Boko Haram militants kidnapped the girls from their school, loading them into trucks in the middle of the night. Some escaped within hours, but 219 remained missing. Now, that number is 218. Chibok community leader Pogu Bitrus told the Associated Press that other girls may have been rescued by the vigilante fighters Tuesday, and he is working with officials to find out their identities.

A "proof of life" video broadcast by CNN in April showed 15 of the missing girls (identified by their parents) alive, wearing black robes, and saying they were being treated well but wanted to go home. The video sparked outrage that the girls still hadn't been found and that the Nigerian government, believed to have had the video since mid-January, didn't inform the girls' families of its existence.

The #BringBackOurGirls campaign gained huge support after the 2014 kidnapping, with Michelle Obama and celebrities like Amy Poehler and Cara Delevingne posting pictures of themselves holding up signs featuring the hashtag. While much of the world went on to forget about the outrage, Bring Back Our Girls activists have remained committed to finding the schoolgirls, even organizing a march in April. Nkeki's rescue renews hope that more girls will be found.

Boko Haram, which means "Western education is forbidden," strongly opposes Western schooling, leading it to target schools like the one in Chibok. The militant group is believed to have killed 20,000 people since starting military operations in 2009, and it joined forces with ISIS in 2015, now referring to itself as ISIS's "West African province."