An unidentified mother at a demonstration with others who have daughters among the kidnapped school girls of government secondary school Chibok, Tuesday April 29, 2014, in Abuja, Nigeria. (AP/Gbemiga Olamikan)
U.S. offers to aid in search for abducted Nigerian girls
"We have worked very closely with the Nigerian government to build their capacity to fight this threat"
The U.S. State Department announced Thursday that the United States would aid Nigeria in its search for the more than 200 school girls who were abducted 18 days ago by a militant group. According to recent reports, the Islamist militant group Boko Haram may be selling the girls into sexual slavery.
"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," said State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf. "We will continue to have those discussions and help in any way we can.
As NBC News notes, the State Department did not offer specifics about what aid it was prepared to offer.
"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," she continued. “As of last year, for fiscal year 2012, we provided over $20 million in security assistance to Nigeria. Part of what that does is help professionalize their military, investigate terrorist attacks and enhance their forensics capabilities, and we've worked with law enforcement there as well to help build their capacity as well."
Hundreds of protesters have flooded to the Nigerian capital this week to demand accountability and action from the government, which activists say is not doing enough to locate the hundreds of schoolgirls who were abducted more than two weeks ago.
“We are trying to bring the plight of the Chibok girls to the attention of the government,” the protest leader, Hadiza Bala Usman, told the New York Times. “We see the Nigerian government not showing enough concern.” The protests have been organized and largely dominated by Nigerian women — some are mothers of the missing girls, others are friends, neighbors or strangers galvanized by the tragic and terrifying news of the abductions.
Katie McDonough is Salon's politics writer, focusing on gender, sexuality and reproductive justice. Follow her on Twitter @kmcdonovgh or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.