The 21 Chibok schoolgirls who were released to the Nigerian government last week after being kidnapped by the terrorist group Boko Haram more than two years ago have been reunited with their families, USA Today reports.
The girls were among the more than 200 students who were taken from their school in April 2014, bringing life to the viral campaign #BringBackOurGirls.
According to the report, at a ceremony in the Nigerian capital Abuja on Sunday, one of the girls recounted how they were starved and how many were forced to convert from Christianity to Islam, USA Today notes, citing the BBC.
Their release was the outcome of negotiations brokered by the International Red Cross and the Swiss government, and could be the first of many positive outcomes.
“These 21 released girls are supposed to be tale bearers to tell the Nigerian government that this faction of Boko Haram has 83 more Chibok girls,” Garba Shehu, spokesman for President Muhammadu Buhari, informed news wire Reuters, according to USA Today.
“The faction said it is ready to negotiate if the government is willing to sit down with them,” Shehu added, saying that the authorities were in fact willing to negotiate.
Some 197 girls are believed to still be missing.
Information Minister Lai Mohammed refuted claims that the girls were released in exchange for the release of four Boko Haram leaders. The Nigerian government has also denied paying ransom for the girls’ release.
Mohammed did comment on progress for the release of 83 other students, saying that discussions were underway.
“Already we are on phase 2 and we are already in discussions. But of course you know these are very delicate negotiations; there are some promises we made also about the confidentiality of the entire exercise, and we intend to keep them,” he said.
Read more at USA Today.