Amid growing frustration at the lack of government response in tracking down the 200 plus missing girls from Nigeria, the U.S. announced on Thursday that it offered to help the country in its search.
If you recall, the students, aged 12-18, were abducted on April 14 by Islamic extremists from the Government Girls Secondary School in north-eastern Chibok (in the state of Borno). Reports indicate the young girls have been forced into marriage with their abductors for a bride price of 2,000 naira, or $12.
“We have been engaged with the Nigerian government in discussions on what we might do to help support their efforts to find and free these young women,” State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf told a daily briefing. “We will continue to have those discussions and help in any way we can.”
Harf did not elaborate on the kind of assistance Washington is offering, but said: “We know Boko Haram is active in the area and we have worked very closely with the Nigerian government to build their capacity to fight this threat.”
Meanwhile, a group of U.S. senators introduced a resolution denouncing the kidnapping and urging the government to provide assistance in the rescue effort.
“The U.S. and the international community must work with the Nigerian government to ensure these girls are reunited with their families and deepen efforts to combat the growing threat posed by Boko Haram,” said Senator Chris Coons of Delaware, the chairman of the Senate’s African Affairs subcommittee, and one of the resolution’s six sponsors.
The news of U.S. support comes as Police Commissioner Tanko Lawan confirmed the number of kidnapped schoolgirls has risen to 276, bolstering the initial 234 figure.
He told a news conference Thursday night in Maiduguri, the northeastern capital of Borno state, that the figures keep increasing because students from other schools were brought into one school for final exams last month after all schools in Borno state were shut because of attacks by Islamic extremists. Communications are difficult with the military often cutting cell phone service under a state of emergency and travel made dangerous on roads frequently attacked by the militants.
“The students were drawn from schools in Izge, Lassa, Ashigashiya and Warabe A. and that is why, after the unfortunate incident, there were various numbers flying around as to the actual number of girls that were taken away,” Lawan said.
To learn more about the mass kidnapping, click here. We’ll keep you updated with the latest in this tragic incident.