Eighty-two of the schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram three years ago have been released.

They were among 276 girls taken from their school in Chibok in north-east Nigeria in April 2014.

The girls, most of them Christians, were forced into marriage with their Islamist captors. Some have given birth to children. It is believed that others had explosives strapped to them and were used as suicide bombers.

Boko Haram, which is affiliated with ISIS, is a fundamentalist Sunni sect opposed to the Westernisation of Nigeria. It aims to turn the country into an Islamic state.

Since the group was founded in 2002 it has abducted thousands of people, but the mass abduction of schoolgirls shocked the world. Of the 276, 113 girls are still unaccounted for.

The 82 young women, now around 20 years old, were released last week in a deal negotiated by the International Committee of the Red Cross, along with the Swiss government, in exchange for five Boko Haram leaders.

​How to continue reading…

This article appears in the Catholic Herald magazine - to read it in full subscribe to our digital edition from just 30p a week

The Catholic Herald is your essential weekly guide to the Catholic world; latest news, incisive opinion, expert analysis and spiritual reflection