Nigerian President Finally Meets With Kidnapped Schoolgirls' Parents

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Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan met today with many parents of the 219 schoolgirls that were kidnapped by the Islamic terrorist group Boko Haram in April.

After months of pressure, Jonathan agreed to the meeting after a request from Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani activist kidnapped by the Taliban in 2012. The Associated Press reported that nearly a dozen of the parents have died since April, a majority fighting Boko Haram outside Chibok, where the girls were taken. 

"Mr. President reassured them of the federal government determination and his personal determination to ensure that the girls that are still in captivity are brought out alive," presidential spokesman Reuben Abati told the Associated Press. "He made it clear that is the main objective of the government."

Journalists were not allowed to speak to the escaped schoolgirls or their parents. 

A video filmed by Boko Haram in May shows a group leader boasting about the kidnapped girls conversion to Islam, as many are seen wearing hijabs and praying. In a new video released this week, Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau called on the Nigerian government to free its prisoners in exchange for the return of the girls.

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Although the Nigerian military placed the area under a state of emergency in 2013, residents appealed for additional protection from the United Nations this month. Chibok has increased its military protection from 15 to 200 since the kidnappings. Roads in and out of the city have been blockaded and all flights have been halted. 

After the Tuesday meeting a spokesman for Jonathan said the President has vowed to continue pursuing the release of the girls who were kidnapped over 100 days ago. 

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.