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.
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.