House Passes Bipartisan Legislation to Combat Boko Haram
Washington, D.C. – In a long-awaited victory, the U.S. House of Representatives today by a voice vote passed H.R. 3833/S. 1632, legislation introduced by Congresswoman Frederica S. Wilson (D-Florida) and Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) to help combat Boko Haram.
The measure 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 the insurgents. The strategy also would address the crushing humanitarian and education crises the terrorists have created.
“Boko Haram captured my attention and the headlines when the terrorist group kidnapped 276 Nigerian schoolgirls from their dormitory rooms 968 days ago. For most of the world, the Chibok girls symbolize the horror that is Boko Haram, but the damage its members have wrought goes far deeper,” said Congresswoman Wilson.
In addition to killing more than 20,000 innocent people, sexually abusing women and girls, and also sending them on suicide bomb missions, Boko Haram has turned more than 3 million Nigerians into refugees in their own homeland, tens of thousands of whom are at risk of starving to death. Two thousand schools have closed, depriving one million children of the opportunity to get an education.
“Boko Haram has pledged allegiance to ISIS and continues to commit terrible acts of brutal violence against civilians in Nigeria as well as in Chad, Cameroon, and Niger,” said Senator Collins, who authored and originally introduced the bill. “Rep. Frederica Wilson was a willing and able partner in the effort to pass this bipartisan legislation, which requires a five-year strategy to pursue Boko Haram and will bolster U.S. efforts throughout the region. I urge the president to immediately sign this bill into law and send an international signal that we will never forget the girls of Nigeria who were targeted simply because they chose to pursue an education.”
For more than two years, House lawmakers have stood united in raising awareness of the #BringBackOurGirls movement, demanding the safe return of the missing Chibok girls and the end of Boko Haram’s carnage. Members from both parties have held policy forums and press conferences to discuss strategies to combat the terrorists.
Every week that Congress is in session, a bipartisan group of lawmakers participates in Wear Something Red Wednesday, during which lawmakers wear a red outfit or accessory and take group photos to share on social media. This campaign, led by Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Republican Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers, and Congresswoman Wilson, is the lawmakers’ way of reaffirming their commitment to find the girls and defeat Boko Haram.
“We will continue to wear red every Wednesday until the last Chibok girl being held hostage has returned home,” said Congresswoman Wilson. “If the world does not act and come to Nigeria’s 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. More important, it is simply the right thing to do and will help save millions of lives.”