Africa

ANCWL urges AU, neighbours to find missing Nigeria schoolgirls

Sapa, Reuters

The ANC Women's League has urged Nigeria to increase efforts to find over 200 kidnapped girls, calling on the AU and neighbouring states to help.

Parents of some of the schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram. (Reuters)

The ANC Women’s League on Saturday called on Nigeria to intensify its search for the schoolgirls that were kidnapped in the country.

“[We] would like to implore the Nigerian government to heighten search efforts for the remaining kidnapped young girls,” spokesperson Edna Molewa said in a statement on Saturday. “Efforts to bring the girls to safety must be executed with haste.”

The league also called on neighbouring countries and the African Union to lend its support and assistance to Nigeria on this matter.

On Friday, the Associated Press reported that the number of Nigerian schoolgirls abducted on April 14 had officially risen to 276. Fifty-three of the girls had escaped from their captors, Islamic militant group Boko Haram.

Meanwhile, the United States on Thursday offered to help Nigeria in its search for the girls abducted from a school in the north-east of the West African country.

“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 spokesperson Marie Harf told a daily briefing. “We will continue to have those discussions and help in any way we can.”

Bomb blast
Gunmen suspected to be from the radical Islamist movement Boko Haram on April 14 stormed an all-girls secondary school in the village of Chibok, in Borno state, packed the teenagers on to trucks and disappeared into a remote area along the border with Cameroon.

The kidnapping occurred the same day a bomb blast, also blamed on Boko Haram, killed 75 people on the edge of the capital, Abuja, and it marked the first attack on the capital in two years.

But the brutality of the school attack has shocked Nigerians long accustomed to hearing about atrocities in an increasingly bloody five-year-old Islamist insurgency in the north. Boko Haram is now seen as the main security threat to Africa’s leading energy producer.

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.”

Separately, a group of US senators introduced a resolution condemning the abduction and urging US government assistance in the rescue effort.

“The US 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.

In fiscal year 2012, the United States provided over $20-million in security assistance to Nigeria, part of that to build the country’s military, boost its capacity to investigate terrorist attacks and enhance the government’s forensic capabilities, she said. – Sapa, Reuters

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