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UN rehabilitates escaped Chibok girls

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The United Nations has said it is rehabilitating some
of the schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram, who
later escaped.

In a statement on the UN websites, the United
Nations Population Fund said, in collaboration with
the World Health Organisation and the United
Nations Children’s Fund, it was setting up clinics and
providing health screening for any of the girls coming
back, as well as educating those who had escaped.

The representative of the UNFPA in Nigeria, Ms. Rati
Ndhlovu, was quoted as saying, “The girls are
running from home and they have no menstruation
pads and have nothing to use. They need water. They
need the basic things that keep a woman dignified.”

The statement further said the UNFPA had
distributed much-needed essentials including “dignity
kits” that include sanitarian napkins.

The UNFPA added that it was educating the girls
about healthy timing of pregnancies.

Ndhlovu added, “The girls are asked to question
becoming pregnant during times of insecurity. It may
not be the best time to be pregnant when you can
hardly sleep in your house, when you are running all
the time.

“With most health clinics closed and a shortage of
health workers, the UN and its partners are leading
and supporting coordination efforts to ensure
synergies around interventions. In that regard, the
UN is working with local non-governmental
organisations and engaging the Red Cross on
logistical matters.”

The fund also said it was training traditional religious
leaders on how to work with their communities to
address certain challenges. It added that
programmes are aimed at changing attitudes so that
the returning girls are not stigmatised and shunned.

“Initially, the girls didn’t want to hear about school or
go back to school because they were at school when
this happened to them, but then they attended a
vigorous psychosocial clinic programme, and at the
end, they all wanted to go back to school. Now, they
are ready to go back to school,” the UN official said.

According to the statement, another session was held
for men and boys of the communities to involve them
in creating a safe space for the girls to return to.

Men and boys were said to have discussed ways to
ensure that girls are not abused and that when they
come back they are accepted. Also, a separate group
of men were reportedly championing for the rights of
the girl child in terms of education and health.

Ndhlovu said, “The UN family has not forgotten the girls.”

She added that restoring the dignity and integrity of
returning schoolgirls is instrumental in reintegrating
the girls back into a “safe space” in society.

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