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Man Responsible For Release Of Chibok Girls Wins UN Prize | The Precision

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Zannah
Mustapha

A Nigerian lawyer who helped to secure the release
of dozens of the Chibok schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram in 2014 was
on Monday announced the winner of a U.N. prize for providing an
education to children uprooted by violence in northeast Nigeria. 

Zannah
Mustapha is the founder of two schools which offer free education,
meals and healthcare to its pupils, and even enrol children born to Boko
Haram fighters to learn alongside those orphaned by the Islamist
group’s eight-year insurgency. 
The Nansen
Refugee Award, which is bestowed by the U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR), has
been won in the past by Eleanor Roosevelt and Luciano Pavarotti, and
the winner receives $150,000 to fund a project complementing their
existing work. 
“I am exceedingly happy and
motivated to do more … I will scale up my efforts,” Mustapha told the
Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone from Maiduguri, the capital of
Borno state. 
“Some of the students that started
in my school have graduated, and they are now going into university – I
can use this money to help them complete the cycle,” Mustapha added. 
His
first venture, Future Prowess, opened a decade ago and was the only
school in Borno state in northeast Nigeria to remain open when Boko
Haram in 2009 began their brutal campaign to carve out an Islamic state. 
The Islamist militants have killed hundreds of
teachers and forced more than 1,000 schools to shut, leaving tens of
thousands of children without an education, aid agencies say. [ID:
“Education offers hope”] 
UNHCR chief Filippo Grandi hailed Mustapha for helping to foster peace and rebuild communities devastated by violence. 
“Education
is one of the most powerful tools for helping refugee children overcome
the horrors of violence and forced displacement,” Grandi said in a
statement. 
Mustapha’s work also includes
helping to negotiate the release of more than 100 of the 220-odd girls
snatched from their school in Chibok in April 2014 in the biggest
publicity coup of Boko Haram’s insurgency that prompted global outrage
and the international campaign #bringbackourgirls. 
The
return of 82 of the girls in May marked the second group release of the
Chibok girls by the militants – with both deals brokered by Switzerland
and the Red Cross and mediated by Mustapha – after a group of 21 were
freed in October last year. 
A few others have escaped or been rescued but about 113 of the girls are believed to be still held captive by Boko Haram. 
The
Islamist group has killed at least 20,000 people, uprooted more than
2.7 million and sparked one of the largest humanitarian crises in the
world, according to aid agencies. 
Despite being driven back from
much of the territory it held, Boko Haram has ramped up attacks this
year, targeting civilians and camps for the displaced with suicide
bombings. 
 
Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation

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