#BringBackOurGirls: Nigeria Welcomes Home 21 Kidnapped Students Lost To Boko Haram

21 of the #BringBackOurGirls students were finally reunited with their families after almost three years in captivity

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It's hard to believe it has been two and a half years since 276 boarding school girls were abducted by terrorist group Boko Haram in the northern Nigerian village of Chibok.

At the time, the event caused international uproar and the #BringBackOurGirls movement via social media.

In less than three weeks since the kidnapping, the hashtag had been used over 1 million times and supported by the likes of Michelle Obama, Cara Delevingne and Malala Yousafzai, and with it created controversy as to whether Western supporters were becoming wrapped up in clicktivism – rather than activism – to aid the girls' release.

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However, on Sunday, 21 Chibok schoolgirls were reunited with their families during a ceremony in Nigeria's capital Abuja, following their negotiated release.

21 Chibok girls reunited with their parents. Joy all around. Thank you GOD. #ChibokGirls #TheOsasuShow

A video posted by The Osasu Show (TOS) (@theosasushow) on

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An overwhelming day for families and friends, the students were seen crying with happiness at being reunited with loved ones while other relatives shed tears of sadness at the realisation their daughters and sisters were still of the 197 that remained in captivity.

Goni Mutah – whose daughter Asabe was of the 21 released students – told CNN: 'I was very happy to see my daughter but I'm also praying for the other daughter to be released. I asked Asabe about her sister and if she was alive…. But she told me she's alive. I'm praying she will come back soon.'

Meanwhile, community leader Tsambido Hosea pointed out that despite the elation felt by many of the released girls' families, it was important to remember that there are hundreds of relatives still in despair.

'Some of the parents whose daughters did not come back were very upset, but they are hopeful because they know talks are continuing for more girls to be released,' he said.

To date, almost 60 of the 276 girls have managed to escape, 21 have been released and negotiations are currently taking place to free around 83 more students. However, despite talks with Boko Haram, this means that there will still be over 100 girls in captivity.

While the release of 21 girls is a success, it's important to remember that victory is not won until all of the girls are free.

#BringBackOurGirls. All our girls.

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