News / USA

Michelle Obama Tweet Gives Lift to Effort to Free Nigerian Girls

Heather Murdock
In Nigeria, women say they are proud that U.S. first lady Michelle Obama is standing with them, a day after she tweeted a picture of herself holding up a #BringBackOurGirls sign. But some security analysts fear that U.S. involvement could do more harm than good in the effort to rescue nearly 300 kidnapped girls.
Outside a busy conference room, Hauwa Ali, a Nigerian journalist and mother, grins as she holds up her cell phone. Her new Blackberry avatar is a picture of Michelle Obama holding up a sign that says #BringBackOurGirls.

“It’s just wonderful," Ali said, near tears. "Michelle doing it, standing in the White House. It’s just mind-boggling.”
Even after five years of the Boko Haram insurgency that has killed thousands of people, the kidnapping of nearly 300 girls nearly four weeks ago was a shock to Nigerians. Protests led by women broke out across the country and online activists rallied around Twitter hashtags like #BringBackOurGirls.
Nigerians have never been louder in their demand for security, and Ali says Mrs. Obama’s tweet proves they have finally been heard.
“We now have this feeling that we are not alone in this fight," she said. "Women in Africa now have a voice and our voice is being heard. Not just in Nigeria but in the whole world.”
Foreign assistance offered

In the past two days, the United States, Britain, France, Canada and China have offered assistance in finding the girls and Nigeria has accepted.
But the girls are believed to be held in a remote region either controlled by or infested with well-armed militants who say they are holding the girls as slaves to be sold. Some security analysts fear that foreign involvement could do more harm than good.  
Ade Ogundeyin is the CEO of Proforce, a security company that builds armored cars and other military equipment. He says if the girls are rescued, it will only be with the help of local people, who will not work with Western forces.  
A Western presence in northern Nigeria could also aggravate the fighting.

“We have to be very, very careful," he said. "This is a typical Nigerian situation. And if it is escalated, yeah, they could get the girls. But they may be all dead.”
Boko Haram means “Western education is sin” and Abubakar Shekau, the man who says he leads the group, regularly threatens to kill any Nigerian who associates with the West and Western leaders.
Women's rights issue

Damiola Awesu, a Nigerian human rights lawyer, says the missing girls are not just a security issue, but a women’s rights issue. Even before the kidnapping, most girls in northeastern Nigeria didn’t go to school.  
She says it will be years before education levels for girls in the region will rise again to even minimal standards.
“We want our children free," she said. "We want them to come back home. It’s their right to live their life. It’s their right to go to school. And the government has the responsibility to protect their rights.”
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has promised that the girls will be rescued and says they remain alive and healthy.  But information is scarce and he hasn’t said how he knows anything about their condition or when they will be saved.

You May Like

Video Russia’s Syrian Escalation Tests Obama’s Crisis Response

Critics once again question whether president has been slow to act on Syrian conflict, thus creating opening for powers like Russia More

Ancient African DNA Shows Mass Migration Back Into Africa

First genetic analysis of ancient human remains in Africa suggests massive migration from north around time of Egyptian empire More

NASA: Pluto Has Blue Sky

New photos also reveal the presence of water ice More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: salome wambui from: Kenya,kitui
May 11, 2014 5:25 PM
With God,everything is possible,the girls might be save wherever they may be,i hope good samaritans will come to their aid and rescue them.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugeesi
Henry Ridgwell
October 08, 2015 8:02 PM
Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs