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Senate Passes Bipartisan Resolution Condemning Abduction of Nigerian School Girls

Resolution Urges U.S. to Assist in Rescue Efforts and Encourages Nigerian Government to Protect Children Seeking an Education

Washington, DC – Today, a bipartisan group of U.S. Senators led by Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Mary Landrieu (D-LA) hailed the Senate passage of a resolution condemning the abduction of more than 200 Nigerian school girls by the terrorist group Boko Haram on April 14. Most of the abducted girls – the majority of them between 16 and 18 years old – remain missing. The resolution calling for the safe, immediate return of the girls was introduced by Senators Boxer, Landrieu, Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chris Coons (D-DE) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and passed the Senate unanimously this afternoon.

On Monday, Boko Haram released a video of its leader, Abubakar Shekau, announcing that the militants plan to “sell” the kidnapped girls. It was also reported that overnight Monday, suspected Boko Haram gunmen kidnapped eight more girls ages 12 to 15 from a village in northeastern Nigeria.

“Kidnapping has no place in any village, in any region, in any country – nowhere,” Senator Boxer said. “We cannot stay silent in the face of these unspeakable crimes. As a mother and a grandmother, my heart is with all of the mothers and fathers in Nigeria who want their daughters to come home safely.” Senator Boxer chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on International Operations and Organizations, Human Rights, Democracy, and Global Women’s Issues.

To view video of Senator Boxer’s remarks on the Senate floor about the resolution, click here.

“As a mom of a daughter, I am deeply concerned that more than 230 young women looking to get an education have to fear for their lives and safety. The swift passage of this Senate Resolution, in addition to commitments made by the White House earlier today, sends a clear message to the Nigerian government and to the international community that women and girls should never have to face persecution, especially when they are gaining an education,” said Senator Landrieu. “When women and men have equal access to an education, economies grow, families flourish and societies move forward. My deepest sympathies go out to the parents and families of these girls and others affected by Boko Haram’s violence. I urge the Nigerian government to do more to combat Boko Haram and ensure the girls’ immediate and safe return.”

“The abduction of the 234 schoolgirls in Nigeria has attracted international attention to the devastation terrorist groups such as Boko Haram constantly inflict on innocent families throughout Africa. Despite Boko Haram’s selling price of $1,200 per girl, human life is invaluable and must be protected,” said Senator Inhofe. “I am proud that the Senate united behind our resolution to demand the immediate, safe return of the abducted girls and to oppose these human-rights violations, and I remain confident that we can continue to be united in our commitment to bring these girls home and the many more that are trafficked around the world.”

“This heinous crime is an affront to the civilized world,” Senator Durbin said. “I was horrified to learn of reports that, for the mere act of seeking an education, the kidnapped girls are being sold into child marriage, a despicable practice that may rob them of their dignity, health, and freedom. I fully support the Administration’s efforts to help the Nigerian government rescue these innocent girls from the barbaric Boko Haram and return them to their families.”

“Boko Haram's kidnapping of these girls to sell them into slavery has been truly heartbreaking,” Senator Coons said. “It has taken far too long for President Jonathan to accept the United States' offer of assistance for helping find them, but I'm relieved he finally has. The Senate's quick passage of this resolution adds to a powerful chorus of condemnation from around the world declaring that this atrocity cannot be tolerated. It is my hope and prayer that the addition of U.S. assistance will help Nigeria bring these girls home to their families quickly and safely.” Senator Coons chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on African Affairs.

“As a father, I am heartsick for these brave young women and their families. The cowardly and heinous kidnapping of young Nigerian women from their school and reports claims by Boko Haram’s leader that many of the missing are being trafficked to neighboring states, then sold into child marriage, is a tragedy of unspeakable horror. I urge President Jonathan of Nigeria to work closely with the United States and international community, lead the effort to find the young women, and hold the captors accountable,” said Senator Menendez, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

On the night of April 14, 2014, armed militants abducted as many as 234 female students from the Government Girls Secondary School located in the northeastern province of Borno, Nigeria. The abduction is thought to have been carried out by Boko Haram, an Islamist militant group that has targeted schools, mosques, churches, villages and agricultural centers in a campaign to create an Islamic state in northern Nigeria. According to the Brookings Institution, Boko Haram burned down or destroyed 50 schools and killed approximately 30 teachers in Nigeria last year alone.

The resolution urges the U.S. to assist in efforts to rescue the students. It also encourages the Nigerian government to “strengthen efforts to protect the ability of children to obtain an education and to hold those who conduct such violent attacks accountable.”