News / Africa

Nigeria Schoolgirl Rescue Could Be Tough, Despite US Help

A protester brandishes a wooden stick during a rally in front of the Nigerian embassy in northwest Washington, May 6, 2014, protesting the kidnapping of nearly 300 teenage schoolgirls from a school in the remote northeast of Nigeria three weeks ago.
A protester brandishes a wooden stick during a rally in front of the Nigerian embassy in northwest Washington, May 6, 2014, protesting the kidnapping of nearly 300 teenage schoolgirls from a school in the remote northeast of Nigeria three weeks ago.
Anne Look
It's what the families of the more than 250 missing schoolgirls have been pleading for since Boko Haram took the girls on April 14.   

"If rescue operation is somehow difficult for the government, if they can't do it, why don't they invite specialists from the outside to come into the nation? They can help," said a man whose sister is still missing.

Nigeria accepted U.S. assistance Tuesday to help find and rescue the girls. The U.S. State Department says it is sending a team of experts to Abuja that includes U.S. military personnel and law enforcement officials trained in investigations and hostage negotiations.

This is the not the first time the U.S. has offered to help Nigeria in the fight against Boko Haram militants who claimed responsibility for the kidnapping - but analysts say the Nigerian government may be becoming more open to outside help.  

When asked why it took three weeks after the kidnapping to get U.S. assistance underway, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the administration has been engaged from the beginning, and implied that it met some initial resistance from the Jonathan government.

"The government had its own set of strategies, if you will, in the beginning," he said. "And you can offer and talk, but you can't 'do' if a government has its own sense of how it's proceeding. I think now the complications that have arisen have convinced everybody that there needs to be a greater effort. And it will begin immediately."

Wake-up call

The abduction of the schoolgirls has been a wake-up call for the country and the world but not for the people of Borno state.

Hundreds of people are killed each month in northeastern Nigeria as a result of the now five-year insurgency by militant Islamist sect Boko Haram.

Local authorities say the military is "outmatched and outgunned." Two deadly bombings at a bus depot outside the capital, Abuja, in the past month have underlined the growing threat.

Nigerian presidential spokesman Reuben Abati indicated Tuesday that U.S. assistance could extend beyond the search and rescue operation for the girls.

"Kerry assured President Jonathan that the United States is wholly committed to giving Nigeria all required support and assistance to save the abducted girls and bring the reign of terror unleashed on parts of the country by Boko Haram to an end," he said.

But don't expect a repeat of the 2013 French-led military intervention to Mali.  Analysts say it's unlikely the U.S. would embark on that kind of intervention in Africa, and it is equally unlikely that Nigeria, the regional giant that it is, would accept that kind of intrusion.

The U.S. military focuses on providing logistical support and training to African countries. AFRICOM tells VOA that Nigeria has participated in the training since 2005.

But foreign military assistance is not a magic bullet.

Washington-based Africa analyst for the CNA Corporation, Lesley Anne Warner, conducts studies for the U.S. armed forces on U.S. military engagement in Africa.

"U.S. assistance cannot really control Nigerian government behavior, so if the Nigerian government doesn't change their approach, then our assistance is really going to have a limited impact," she said. "If you have the confluence of our assistance coming in trying to help them to develop a less military focused counter-insurgency strategy, then there's a chance that it might work."

She says Nigerian authorities must move away from the heavy-handed military response that has fed the insurgency and alienated the population.

Many in northern Nigeria agree.

When it comes to rescuing the schoolgirls, experts say it's going to be tough even with U.S. assistance.

Militants have reportedly divided the girls up in various camps, and any assault on the camps could put their lives in danger.

You May Like

UN Fears Rights Violations in China-backed Projects

UNHCHR investigates link between financing development and ignoring safeguards for human rights More

Boko Haram Violence Tests Nigerians’ Faith in Buhari

New president has promised to stem insurgency; he’s scheduled to meet with President Obama at White House July 20 More

Social Media Network Wants Privacy in User’s Hands

Encryption's popularity in messaging is exploding; now it's the foundation of a new social network More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Aman from: India
May 08, 2014 2:11 PM
Problem lies with misinterpreted Islam and religious intolerance.. If govt could make the idiotic fundamentalists see that religion serves as a mean to drive life easier and rational rather opposing changes and making violence then hope is obviously there otherwise weapons were designed to save humanity and one may find justification even on violent part to make things correct..

by: Serb from: Extraterrestrial
May 08, 2014 8:44 AM
It is sad that the Nigerian government have failed to provide security for its people. Boko Haram has seen its lapses and are taking full advantage. With the involvement of the US and others I believe that it would yield positive results. Their collective know-how of situations like this and amazing leaps in technology shouldn't make this a mission impossible.

by: colin callaghan from: gatton australia
May 07, 2014 3:51 PM
Why do governments say these girls are hard to find? With the supreme intelligence and satelite tracking it can be done. i mean if a satelite can read a nuber plate or read a news paper then finding those kids should be no problem. The nigerian government will do nothing because they don't like to spend there own money, and that's what its all about ( money ).

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugeesi
X
Carolyn Weaver
July 06, 2015 6:47 PM
In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.

VOA Blogs