According to the UK Telegraph, the International Committee of the Red Cross is involved in a covert prisoner exchange deal to broker the release of the over 200 Chibok girls abducted by Boko Haram.

Officials of the organization have reportedly participated in talks between the Nigerian government and a Boko Haram commander, who is currently imprisoned.

The UK Telegraph reports:

The Red Cross officials have also visited a number of other jails, identifying a list of 16 senior commanders that Boko Haram wants freed in exchange for its hostages.

The ICRC's role in the talks represents the first official confirmation that the Nigerian government is actively engaged in talks with Boko Haram over the release of the girls. Publicly, Nigeria's president, Goodluck Jonathan, has maintained that the government would never agree to any kind of negotiations.

The ICRC, whose global remit includes prisoners' welfare, has agreed to act as an independent party in ensuring that the two sides, neither of which trust each other, honour any prisoner swap agreement. It has also offered to monitor and oversee any co-ordinated exchange of the schoolgirls for the militants.

A Nigerian civil rights activist, Fred Eno, who also participated in the talks, said:

"We felt the negotiations would go better with the backing of a major international humanitarian organisation like the ICRC. There have been two or three ICRC people at each meeting - international staff rather than Nigerians - and they accompany the government security agents to the various prisons and detention centres to identify the people that Boko Haram want released."

The secret negotiations were said to have begun 2 months ago but they broke down at some point because Boko Haram refused to release all the girls at once, as the government had insisted.

The over 200 schoolgirls were kidnapped from Chibok , Borno state on April 14 and most of them are still being held captive by the terrorist group.