Abducted schoolgirls: US sends special envoy to Nigeria

Abducted schoolgirls: US sends special envoy to Nigeria

Tuesday, May 6, 2014 12:37 am

The United States government has sent Undersecretary of State, Sarah Sewall to Nigeria to discuss with officials over the abduction of 223 schoolgirls by Boko Haram militants. It was not clear what day Sewall will depart the US.

State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf who disclosed Sewall’s journey to Nigeria said Washington regards the abduction of the girls on 14 April as a ‘despicable incident’

Us expressed worry many of the girls have been moved out of the country, after local officials in northeastern Nigeria told AFP the girls had likely been taken to nearby Chad or Cameroon.

Fifty-three of the abducted schoolgirls managed to escape from the militants but 223 were still being held, Nigerian state police said Friday.

“We have many indications many of them have likely been moved out of the country to neighboring countries,” Harf told reporters.

“We will continue working with” the Nigerian authorities, she added, refusing to outline specific US help.

In general, Washington has been providing Nigeria with “counterterrorism assistance” in the form of intelligence sharing as well as developing their forensics services, Harf said. But she dismissed suggestions that Washington would deploy military assets on the ground.

“We’re standing by to help in ways that we think are appropriate and that we can.”

The US stance came amidst bipartisan calls Monday for US government action to help find and free more than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls kidnapped last month by Islamist militants, amid growing outrage and fears over their fate.

“We cannot close our eyes to the clear evidence of barbarity unfolding before us in Nigeria,” said Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar, her voice breaking as she addressed the Senate.

“This is one of those times when our action or inaction will be felt not just by those schoolgirls being held captive and their families waiting in agony, but by victims and perpetrators of trafficking around the world. Now is the time to act.”

Six US senators have introduced a resolution supporting the Nigerian people and calling for the immediate release and return of the girls.

“We and our African allies should do everything to help the Nigerian government rescue innocent girls and return them to their families,” Senator Dick Durbin, one of the resolution’s sponsors, said in a tweet.

He called the Boko Haram kidnapping “an affront to the civilized world.”

President Barack Obama has been briefed by his national security team on the kidnapping, which White House spokesman Jay Carney called “an outrage and a terrible tragedy.”

Republican Senator John McCain said Washington should “use every asset we have to find these young women, young girls. It’s horrifying.”

But he argued the abduction was an “endemic” problem of “dysfunctional and corrupt governments… particularly in Nigeria, where you’ve got a great deal of oil wealth in the country, and none of it has reached the average citizen.”

Other senators also focused on the horrors of human trafficking, which they said needed to be combated both in the US and abroad.

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