The president of Nigeria is calling on the United Nations to mediate the kidnapping of schoolgirls held captive by the militant Islamist group Boko Haram. He stated he is willing to swap militants currently in custody for the release of the girls. There were more than 200 kidnapped from the north-eastern town of Chibok in 2014 during a raid on a school.
Prior to the call for UN mediation, the country of Chad attempted to broker a deal with Boko Haram to secure the release of the girl, but the effort failed. According to Nigeria’s president speaking at the annual UN General Assembly meeting, there are splits within the ranks of Boko Haram, which is an affiliate of the Islamic State group (IS or ISIS) and the split is making it difficult to negotiate a deal.
According to the president, the government has reached out to the group, but has found it increasingly difficult to determine its credible leader. The UN has yet to comment on the request for mediation.
The Islamic State group stated Abubakar Shekau was the leader of Boko Haram, but was replaced in August by Abu Musab al-Barnawi. Shekau denied this and insisted he was still the leader.
Worldwide attention was brought to the matter when US First Lady Michelle Obama and Pakistani Nobel Peace laureate Malala Yousafzai supported the social media hashtag campaign to #BringBackOurGirls. As of now, only one girl has been found from the group when an army-backed vigilante group found her in May in the Sambisa forest, close to the border of Cameroon. She stated she was looking for wood to make a fire, and had a baby with her. A suspected militant identified himself as her husband, potentially confirming the Boko Haram claim that some of the girls had been married off to fighters