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'Bring Back Our Girls' campaigners celebrate the release of the kidnapped Chibok school girls at the unity fountain in Abuja, Nigeria, Sunday, May 7, 2017. Five Boko Haram commanders were released in exchange for the freedom of 82 Chibok schoolgirls kidnapped by the extremist group three years ago, a Nigerian government official said Sunday, as the girls were expected to meet with the country's president and their families. (AP Photo/ Sunday Alamba)

Three years after their kidnapping, 82 Chibok girls are reunited with their families


After weeks of delay since the Nigerian government announced it had negotiated with Boko Haram militants to release 82 kidnapped Chibok girls, eager families on Saturday were finally reunited with those who had been in captivity for more than three years, according to the Associated Press.

The scene was an emotional one. Families dressed in vibrant colors--rushing through crowds in the capital, Abuja, to embrace their loved ones. Some danced, others were in tears.

Three years after their kidnapping, 82 Chibok girls are reunited with their families

WATCH | Scenes from the reunion in the Nigerian capital of Abuja. 

"I am really happy today, I am Christmas and new year, I am very happy and I thank God," said mother Godiya Joshua, whose daughter Esther was among those freed.

This month's release was the largest liberation since Boko Haram militants stormed a boarding school in 2014 and kidnapped 276 girls. As part of the release, the Nigerian government agreed to release five commanders. Officials said it would make further exchanges to bring the remaining 113 schoolgirls home. 

"Our joy is never complete until we see the complete 113, because one Chibok girl matters to all Chibok people," said a parent of one of the freed schoolgirls, Yahi Bwata.

Up until the reunion with their families on Saturday, the girls remained in government care as part of a nine-month reintegration program in which President Muhammadu Buhari said he would personally oversee. Human rights advocates, however, have criticized the program because it prevents the girls from their families for additional time.

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