CAPITOL HILL — Obama has informed Congress that the United States is deploying about 80 military personnel to Chad as part of its effort to help find and return more than 270 Nigerian schoolgirls kidnapped by the Islamist militant group Boko Haram. The pledge came on the same day as a powerful visit to Capitol Hill by a survivor of a Boko Haram attack.
Deborah Peter, a Nigerian teenager, came to Washington to tell how she lost her family to Boko Haram in December 2011.
Peter said three men came to her home and shot and killed her father and brother in front of her because of their Christian faith.
She also appealed for help for the schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram from her village, Chibok.
"I want them maybe to send armies to find the girls and maybe they should help them when the people lost their family like to come to school here," said Peter.
Peter now goes to school in Virginia. Members of Congress were visibly moved, including Eliot Engel.
"I want to take this opportunity to thank Deborah for coming here and being with us. You’ll see when she talks what a fine young lady she is," said Engel.
At a hearing on Boko Haram, House Foreign Affairs Chairman Ed Royce said more girls are being snatched and more people are being targeted for death.
"The difficulty is that Boko Haram is in a process of expanding their terror, and the frequency of these attacks, the attacks on girls. That has been an evolution. I mean as they have intimidated and frightened the Nigerian military, they are now to the point where a lot of military units have run away," said Royce.
Royce called for U.S. forces to help Nigerian units track down the girls and to plan and organize a rescue mission.
Asked about the health and welfare of the girls, senior State Department official Sarah Sewall was cautiously optimistic.
"Given time, I am hopeful that we will make progress," said Sewall.
Republicans and Democrats in Congress agree that the U.S. needs to boost its efforts to help rescue the girls and to curb future attacks.