Senators Express Shock, Concern in Letter to Nigerian President Regarding Kidnapping of Schoolgirls

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adam_sharon@foreign.senate.gov



Washington, DC –U.S. Sens. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Richard Durbin (D-IL), and Chris Coons (D-DE) wrote a letter to Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan expressing deep concern for the welfare of the women and girls kidnapped by the terrorist group Boko Haram. The Senators encourage the Nigerian government to engage with international partners to address the root causes of unrest in the country.

The letter appears below:

Dear President Jonathan,

We write to express our deep concern for the welfare of the over 200 young women and girls who were abducted from their school in northeastern Nigeria on April 14 by the terrorist group Boko Haram.  We are appalled by this brutal and heinous act and reports that the girls may be trafficked to neighboring states and sold into child marriage.  We urge you to work expeditiously with international partners, including the United States, to determine what assistance is needed now to locate the missing women and bring their captors to justice.

Twenty-two days without word on the well-being of these young women is far too long.  We call on you to lead the effort to ensure their safe return. We also urge you to address effectively the larger terrorist threat and restore the rule of law to your nation, in cooperation with regional and international partners.  As President Obama and Secretary Kerry have stated, the United States stands with you in this effort.  Today the U.S. Senate passed a resolution condemning these attacks and the ongoing threat from Boko Haram, and encouraging enhanced cooperation between our nations on security and development efforts.  As a critical first step, we call on you to fully embrace today’s offer from Secretary Kerry to provide a coordination cell that will include U.S. military personnel and law enforcement officials with expertise in investigations and hostage negotiations, as well as trauma recovery assistance for the girls who were able to escape from their kidnappers.

Boko Haram is waging an escalating campaign of terror and war against its own people to tragic ends—violence they have fomented has contributed to an estimated 1,500 deaths this year alone.  In addition to the young women kidnapped three weeks ago, reports now indicate that eight more girls have been kidnapped in Warabe village of Borno state.  The Nigerian people, especially its children, have a right to live and learn peacefully in their own land.  Moving forward, it is vital that your government engage with international partners to address the root causes of unrest in your nation and the escalating threat to peace, stability, and long-term development goals in Nigeria. 

Sincerely,

Robert Menendez
Barbara Boxer
Benjamin L. Cardin
Richard J. Durbin
Christopher A. Coons

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