In 2014 almost 300 Nigerian school girls abducted by the feared terror group Boko Haram vanished without a trace. The world was gripped by incident, while rage and calls for action swept through the globe. The mere thought that these girls were in the grips of a horrific nightmare was almost too much to imagine.
But now, the largest number of abducted girls have been released by the hounded captors. In all, 82 Nigerian Chibok schoolgirls released after more than three years in captivity have finally been reunited with their families.
In the mood of celebration and combined with overwhelming relief, the families of the released girls took to the streets in jubilation. Wearing brightly colored attires that matched their emotions they danced and cried.
"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.
After 3 years apart, the families were reunited in the capital, Abuja, where the girls were taken by Nigerian authorities after their release earlier this month.
In a prisoner exchange, Five commanders from the terrorists group were exchanged for the freedom of the 82 girls.
And although many people believe that a number of these captured girls must have died during this 3 year period, the Nigerian government has said it would make further exchanges to bring the 113 remaining schoolgirls back to their families.
The shocking mass abduction of the girls from a boarding school in April 2014 brought international attention to Boko Haram's threat in world terrorism. This sparked a global Bring Back Our girls campaign with front runners like former US first Lady Michelle Obama demanding the release of the schoolgirls.