Negotiations ongoing to free Nigerian girls

The US has said that negotiations are ongoing for the release of some 200 Nigerian girls held hostage by Boko Haram militants, who have reached a "ceasefire" deal with that country in this regard.

PTI| Last Updated: Oct 21, 2014, 09:07 AM IST

Washington: The US has said that negotiations are ongoing for the release of some 200 Nigerian girls held hostage by Boko Haram militants, who have reached a "ceasefire" deal with that country in this regard.

"We can confirm reports that a ceasefire has been announced, appears to have been put into place," State Department Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf, told reporters.

"We would welcome that ceasefire, call on all parties both to implement and maintain such a ceasefire, and hope that such a ceasefire would herald the return of peace to the northeast. This is a region that has had far too little of that," she said.

"It's our understanding that negotiations about a deal to release the girls continue," Harf said when asked about the negotiations between Boko Haram and Nigeria on their release.

The Nigerian government had earlier said that more than 200 girls abducted by Boko Haram in April are to be released, after it signed a ceasefire agreement with the militant groups.

"(US) would join the world in hoping that these girls would be reunited with their families as soon as possible, but it's our understanding those negotiations do continue," Harf said.

Dr Babatunde Osotimehin, Executive Director of UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund) in a statement welcomed the news of a ceasefire agreement that is expected to lead to the release of the girls who were kidnapped from the north-eastern Nigerian town of Chibok.

"These girls have languished in captivity long enough, and it is high time they are returned to their families, schools and communities.

"We owe it to these girls to positively support their homecoming and reintegration. We, at UNFPA, are prepositioned, ready and committed to help achieve that," she said.

As part of the effort to treat and reintegrated the Chibok Girls, UNFPA will continue to provide psychosocial and other medical support to the girls and their relatives.

UNFPA, as part of the United Nations Country Team in Nigeria, will also address their reproductive health needs and help the federal and state ministries of health in providing them with the required health services, a statement said.