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

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

Audio 'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
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.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs