A group of  Nigerian women and children managed to escape Boko Haram Islamic militants after months of being held captive. The six women and nine children were abducted from churches in the northeast by the extremist rebels in two separate incidents- one in October 2020 and in May of this year.

According to ABC News, the hostages trekked through the bushes for six days and hiked through the Buni Yadi forest until they were found by security forces in the town of Damboa. The group was then taken to safety in Borno state and later met with Borno Governor Babagana Zulum in the state capital of Maiduguri. They are due to be reunited with their families soon.

Zulum said the group was abducted by the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), a group known to target women and children in their attacks. ISWAP is an offshoot group of Boko Haram, however the factions have now turned on each other.

Based on reports from the UN Development Agency, an estimated 1,000 children have been kidnapped since 2013. This also included the abduction of 276 girls from a school in Chibok in 2014, which drew much outrage and condemnation from countries worldwide. To this day, more than 100 of the Chibok girls have not yet been found.

Stories from women who have escaped or have been rescued from the Islamist insurgents, recount a variety of abuses including being forced to marry their captors and give birth to their children.

“Abducted women have been subjected to violence and abuse and used as spies, fighters, and suicide bombers,” the UNDP said in a 2020 report. 

Women who were able to escape or have been released, sadly, are not always welcomed back to their communities. Those returning from captivity or forced into involvement with armed groups are also not provided with counseling and reintegration programs, the report said.

The continued conflict in Northeast Nigeria between Islamist insurgents and armed forces has ravaged the region for more than a decade. It has left a deathly trail of about 300,000 people who have been either killed, abducted and subjected to gruesome atrocities for years in remote camps. In 2014, 59 pupils were shot and burned to death in their boarding school in Buni Yadi as a result of the decade long conflict

fulanis-4917820_960_720 Representation Image Traditional Nigerian Tribe Fulanis Tagoua/ Pixabay