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

Video Positive Messaging Helps Revamp Ethiopia's Image

In country once connected with war, poverty, famine, headlines now focus on fast-growing economy, diplomatic reputation More

Russian Activist Thinks Kremlin Ordered Nemtsov's Death

Alexei Navalny says comments of Russian liberals who think government wasn't involved are 'nonsense.' More

Video Land Disputes Rise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers 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.
Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Imagei
X
Marthe van der Wolf
March 03, 2015 9:03 PM
Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.
Video

Video Land Disputes Arise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Ugandan police say there has been a sharp increase in land disputes, with 10 new cases being reported each day. The claims come amid an oil boom as investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers. Meanwhile, the people who have been living on the land for decades are chased away, sometimes with a heavy hand. VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
Video

Video In Russia, Many Doubt Opposition Leader's Killer Will Be Found

The funeral has been held in Moscow for Boris Nemtsov, the opposition leader who was assassinated late Friday just meters from the Kremlin. Nemtsov joins a growing list of outspoken critics of Russia under the leadership of President Vladimir Putin who are believed to have been murdered for their work. VOA’s Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Simulated Astronauts Get Taste of Mars, in Hawaii

For generations, people have dreamed of traveling to Mars to explore Earth's closest planetary neighbor. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that while space agencies like NASA are planning manned missions to the planet, some volunteers in Hawaii are learning how humans will cope with months in isolation on a Mars base.
Video

Video Destruction of Iraq Artifacts Shocks Archaeologists

The city of Mosul was once one of the most culturally rich and religiously diverse cities in Iraq. That tradition is under attack by members of the Islamic State who have made Mosul their capital city. The Mosul Museum is the latest target of the group’s campaign of terror and destruction, and is of grave concern to archaeologists around the world. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.
Video

Video Moscow Restaurants Suffer in Bad Economy, Look for Opportunity

As low oil prices and Western sanctions force Russia's economy into recession, thousands of Moscow restaurants are expected to close their doors. Restaurant owners face rents tied to foreign currency, while rising food prices mean Russians are spending less when they dine out. One entrepreneur in Moscow has started a dinner kit delivery service for those who want to cook at home to save money but not skimp on quality. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Presidential Hopefuls Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds

One after another, presumptive Republican presidential contenders auditioned for conservative support this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside Washington. The rhetoric was tough as a large field of potential candidates tried to woo conservative support with red-meat attacks on President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. VOA Political Columnist Jim Malone takes a look.
Video

Video Southern US Cities Preserve Civil Rights Heritage to Boost Tourism

There has been a surge of interest in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, thanks in part to the Hollywood motion picture "Selma." Five decades later, communities in the South are embracing the dark chapters of their past with hopes of luring tourism dollars. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More