After months of speculation over whether or not more of the abducted Nigerian schoolgirls would be released from their captors’ grasp, reports have surfaced that a few have run their way to freedom. Sixty-three girls and young women who Boko Haram militants kidnapped in April have reportedly escaped and returned to their villages.
Abbas Gava, a Nigerian vigilante, said to Time that he “received an alert from my colleagues … that about 63 of the abducted women and girls had made it back home.” Bukar Kyari, another vigilante, said that the girls managed to escape while their captors left them to launch an attack in the town of Damboa, according to CNN. Fifty-three Boko Haram militants, five police officers and six military troops were killed during that attack. While the girls’ escape was successful, Boko Haram militants, who want to establish an Islamist state, still have more than 200 schoolgirls in captivity.
Reports of the girls’ escape were slow to surface because of trouble with communication towers from Boko Haram attacks. But, a “high-level though unnamed security source” confirmed the escape to the news agency AFP. These confirmed reports along with videos, stories and personal testimonies are the bits of evidence that U.S. media has tried to piece together for answers. And, while the success of those attempts are questionable, social media mavens wanted to add their voice to the conversation, developing the #BringBackOurGirls hashtag on Twitter and hosting rallies to show their support. Many believe that Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan‘s decision to even speak out against the kidnappings was because of how viral the Twitter movement became — even First Lady Michelle Obama tweeted her support.
While news of the recent escape is positive, we still have to not only be aware of the more than 200 girls still in captivity, but also of what comes next for the girls who did get out. Will they have support and resources from their family or will their own stories hold enough merit for the public to shed light on their experiences? Only time will tell of how we will share that information if the remaining captive girls have a similar fate to those who escaped.