Congresswoman Frederica S. Wilson Marks the Chibok Girls’ 900th Day in Captivity
Today we mark yet another sad milestone in the saga of the nearly 300 Nigerian schoolgirls who were kidnapped by Boko Haram on April 14, 2014. It is the 900th day that 218 of the girls have been held in captivity by what is now known as the world’s deadliest terrorist group, a title Boko Haram earned for abducting, burning, raping, and butchering tens of thousands of innocent people.
“The insurgents’ list of atrocities is astonishing,” said Congresswoman Frederica S. Wilson, who has for more than two years been one of the Chibok girls’ most ardent advocate. “More than 2.5 million others have been forced from their homes; 2,000 schools have closed, which means one million kids are not being educated; and tens of thousands of Africans in Nigeria and its neighbor states are literally starving to death as a result of this insurgency. Yet the world for the most part looks away.”
Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari has indicated that he is willing to negotiate with Boko Haram for the safe return of the Chibok girls in exchange for its soldiers who have been captured and imprisoned. This could take some time, however, because the terrorists are in the midst of a leadership crisis that has left the group fractured and even more unpredictable.
In a meeting earlier this month at the United Nations, President Obama met with Buhari and the two leaders talked about how to make progress in the effort to destroy Boko Haram and to also help its victims in Nigeria and its border nations recover from the devastation the group has left in its wake. Buhari also has asked U.N. intermediaries to assist in the negotiation talks between his government and the terrorists to release the girls.
On Thursday, September 22, the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations passed H.R. 3833, legislation introduced by Rep. Wilson to help combat Boko Haram and secure the girls’ safe return.
H.R. 3833 directs the U.S. secretaries of State and Defense to jointly develop a five-year strategy to aid the Nigerian government, members of the Multinational Joint Task Force created to combat Boko Haram, and international partners who’ve offered their support to counter the regional threat posed by Boko Haram. The strategy also would address the crushing humanitarian and education crises created by Boko Haram. Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) has successfully passed a similar bill.
“It is important to remember that Nigeria is one of Africa’s most populous nations and largest economies,” said Rep. Wilson. “If the world does not act and come to its aid, the trickledown effect on the rest of the continent and other parts of the world could cause a level of damage that will take years to repair.”