US pledges support for the safe recovery of kidnapped schoolgirls
Still shocked and concerned with Boko Haram’s kidnappings of over 250 young women from a secondary school in Nigeria’s Chibok province, the United States of America vowed to help the Nigerian government safely recover the hostages.
In her testimony in Washington DC, Under Secretary Sarah Sewall for for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights sad President Obama pledged his full support for the safe retrieval of the 250 young girls.
Ms. Sewall noted that a credible multidisciplinary team from the US is collaborating with Nigerian counterparts and other countries such as the United Kingdom and France to address this daunting problem.
In addition, American military and civilian experts in intelligence, military planning, hostage negotiations, strategic communications, civilian protection, and victim support, have been given unprecedented access and cooperation to assist Nigeria’s effort to safely recover the kidnapped schoolgirls.
“This effort is extremely difficult and, as we know from our own experience, may take far longer than we would like.” – Ms. Sewall
Ms. Sewall highlighted that the United States is doing all it can to help Nigeria address these challenges today and longer term particularly with the surging threats of Boko Haram in the African nation.
International efforts to save the kidnapped schoolgirls
The mass kidnappings of Nigerian schoolgirls sparked outrage around the world. Aside from the United States, other countries particularly France and the UK have extended support for the safe recovery of the schoolgirls.
Ms. Sewall said she met AFRICOM Commander General David Rodriguez and Nigeria’s top security officials about the importance of resolving this crisis and redoubling the effort to defeat Boko Haram, while respecting human rights and ensuring the protection of civilians.
In addition, Under Secretary for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman continued this concern with Nigerian President Jonathan and heads of state from neighboring countries at a summit convened by French President Hollande in Paris.
The summit, which brought together President Jonathan with presidents of his four neighbors has made it clear the need for all parties to address the growing regional dimension of this challenge as soon as possible.
In the summit, the leaders discussed the safe return of the school girls held hostage, and shared concrete ideas on how to defeat Boko Haram such as improving cooperation on border security, countering violent extremism, and redoubling efforts to promote economic growth and create jobs in the affected region.
US Outlines Efforts To Help Nigeria Address Boko Haram
According to Ms. Sewall, a fuller description of the US counterterrorism assistance to Nigeria can be found in the Fact Sheet about Boko Haram and U.S. Counterterrorism Assistance to Nigeria released by the State Department on May 14.
She noted that in Fiscal Years 2012 and 2013, the Department of State planned approximately $35.8 million in security assistance programs that benefit Nigeria, subject to Congressional notification and approval.
“Our security assistance reflects our efforts to ensure Nigeria takes a comprehensive approach to countering Boko Haram.” – Ms. Sewall
The US is working with vetted police and civilian security components to build Nigerian law enforcement capacities to investigate terrorism cases, effectively deal with explosive devices, and secure Nigeria’s borders.
In addition, the US is focused on enabling various Nigerian security services, including the police, various intelligence agencies, and the ministry of defense, with fusing multiple information streams to develop a better understanding of Boko Haram.
Boko Haram’s Brutality Evident In Nigeria
The terrorist group became considerably more violent in 2009 and has metastasized into a regional threat. The Nigerian-based groups is responsible for the brutal killing of thousands of people in Nigeria, resulting in over 1000 deaths and injuries in 2013 alone.
Aside from Nigeria, Boko Haram also operates in Cameroon’s Far North Region and the Lake Chad Basin and has kidnapped high-profile Westerners and, just recently, Chinese nationals in Cameroon.
Earlier this year, over 59 teenage boys were killed in an attack, and, earlier this month, Boko Haram carried out an attack on two towns, killing an estimated 300 people.
Sectarian Violence Escalates In Nigeria
Earlier in 2012, spiralling violence escalated in Nigeria as Boko Haram group unleashed a series of attacks.
Boko Haram is a local terrorist group professing allegiance to Al Qaeda. Boko Haram militants attacked several churches on Christmas Day, killing dozens of worshippers. The bombings occurred in Madala, on the outskirts of Abuja, the Nigerian capital, and in the north-eastern city of Jos.
The United Nations human rights chief, Navi Pillay, urged a bold effort by Nigeria’s political and religious leaders to halt the spiralling sectarian violence.
Boko Haram, which aims to install strict Shariah, or Islamic, law across Nigeria, has vowed to keep killing Christians in the multiethnic country.