About 214 girls and young women out of the over 600 women rescued since last week from the terrorist group Boko Haram by the Nigerian military are reported to be pregnant. This release by the UN Population Fund was made on Sunday May 3rd by the executive director to Nigeria, Babatunde Oshotimehin
“Already many of them are undergoing screening for various diseases, infections, including HIV/AIDS and about 214 of them already screened were discovered to be at various stages of pregnancy some visibly pregnant and some just tested pregnant; but we are supporting all of them, with various levels of care to stabilize them” he said. “what we found is that some of the women and girls that have come back actually have much more in terms of the stress they have faced, so counseling has to be more intense and working with them one on one”
Some children rescued alongside the women had been born in the Sambisa forest where they have never before been out in the open.
The Nigerian Militant Islamic group behind these abductions and kidnappings, has in recent times caused grave havoc to the west African giant; Nigeria, burning down churches with thousands of deaths recorded. The name Boko Haram is interpreted to mean western civilization is forbidden. Muhammed yususf the founding leader was killed in police custody in 2009, same year it launched its military operations. The group is known for fighting to establishing a caliphate in northeast Nigeria and in April it demanded for an affiliation to ISIS and changed its name to the Islamic State’s West Africa.
In 2013 it was designated a military group, and later declared a caliphate in areas it controlled. In 2014 it caught the attention of the International scene, after abducting some 200 girls in chibok, a village in Borno, Nigeria. This sparked an online campaign, tagged “ bring back our girls “advocating for the release of these girls, under the reign of president Goodluck Jonathan who was repeatedly criticized for not taking proportionate and timely action against Boko Haram.
Although Over 600 girls are reported to have been liberated from Boko Haram, the Chibok girls are not confirmed to be amongst them. equally as troubling, a military spokes person reported that some women shot at the soldiers that tried to rescue them raising fears over the radicalization of Boko Haram’s captives.
The UNFPA is disclosed to have taken over about 16,000 pregnancies in the troubled north east region of Nigeria. This crisis is widespread more needs to be done to protect women in conflict ridden areas more generally, and as women continue to be released from Boko Haram captivity more counseling services need to be made available for them.
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