By Stephanie Nebehay
GENEVA (Reuters) – A United Nations human rights committee called on the Nigerian government on Monday to step up efforts to rescue all women and girls abducted by Boko Haram and to ensure they return to school without stigma.
Roughly 100 of the 270 girls abducted by the Islamist militants at their secondary school in Chibok in northeast Nigeria in April 2014 have been released and another 60 have escaped, but about 100 are still believed to be in captivity.
Nigeria was one of eight countries whose records were examined by the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women at a three-week session.
Nigeria should “intensify its efforts to rescue all women and girls abducted by Boko Haram insurgents, ensure their rehabilitation and integration into society and provide them and their families with access to psychological and other rehabilitation services,” said the U.N. panel of 23 experts.
Boko Haram has killed 20,000 people and displaced more than 2 million during a seven-year insurgency aimed at creating an Islamic caliphate. Although the Chibok girls are the most high-profile case, Boko Haram has kidnapped thousands of adults and children, many of whose cases are neglected, aid groups say.
Girls who were abducted by Boko Haram from Chibok and Damasak in Borno State in April and November 2014, “continue to be subjected to rape, sexual slavery, forced marriage and impregnation by Boko Haram insurgents,” the panel said.
Nigeria’s presidency referred a request for comment to the ministry of women’s affairs. The ministry was not immediately available for comment. In May, Nigerian officials said that the Chibok girls found last year would be going back to school in September.
“Of course we commended (Nigeria) for the rescue of 100 of them who are currently, we’re told, kept in Abuja, going through psycho-social counselling,” panel member Hilary Gbedemah told Reuters.
Many girls in the northeast have dropped out of school due to the insurgency and schools must be secured to protect students, the panel said.
(Reporting and writing by Stephanie Nebehay; additional reporting by Alexis Akwagyiram in Lagos; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)