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UN Urges Nigerians to Embrace Freed Schoolgirls

FILE - Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari meets with 82 freed Chibok schoolgirls in Abuja, Nigeria, May 7, 2017.

The United Nations says it welcomes freedom for 82 schoolgirls held by Boko Haram extremists in Nigeria and urges their families and society not to reject the traumatized youngsters.

"We appeal to all Nigerians ... to fully embrace them and provide all necessary support to ensure their reintegration into society," a spokesman for Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Monday.

Spokesman Stephane Dujarric said rape victims are frequently shunned by local communities.

But Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari promises to "personally supervise" returning the girls to a sense of well-being.

"It is heartening to know that the girls will be returning to their families who have been waiting for this day," U.N. Children's Fund official Pernille Ironside said, adding "They will face a long and difficult process to rebuild their lives alter the indescribable horror and trauma that have suffered at the hands of Boko Haram."

The U.N. Population Fund has sent a team of specialists to Nigeria, including counselors and other health professionals, to help the girls try to return to their normal lives.

Boko Haram freed 82 of the 276 schoolgirls they kidnapped in Chibok in 2014 in a prisoner swap Sunday.

Twenty-one others were released in October. Some of the girls have escaped while others were freed individually over the last three years. More than 100 are still being held captive.

Nigerian officials say they believe the girls were captured to intimidate civilians against resisting the Islamic extremists.