Ahead of the second anniversary of the more than 200 abducted schoolgirls by Boko Haram in Chibok, Borno State, the United States government has reassured Nigerians that efforts are ongoing to locate and rescue the girls.
The US said that it was providing a range of security assistance to Nigeria, and that it had stepped up information-sharing efforts.
“One component of our strategy is providing support to the Multinational Joint Task Force, which includes soldiers from Cameroon, Chad, Niger, Nigeria, and Benin. We are providing advisers, intelligence, training, logistical support, and equipment. This is part of a regional approach to a problem that transcends borders.
“And as the second anniversary of the Chibok girls’ captivity approaches, we continue to actively support the efforts to locate these girls – none of us has given up on the fight to bring these girls home. We are equally concerned about the thousands of other victims of Boko Haram, which by some measures is the most deadly terrorist organisation in the world today,” the US Assistant Secretary, Bureau of African Affairs, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, said at the US Institute of Peace.
According to her, through the Security Governance Initiative, which President Barack Obama launched in 2014 with six African partners, including Nigeria, the American government is exploring ways to enhance the management of security and justice systems so that Nigeria can provide needed services, including in the North-East, “more efficiently and effectively”.
Thomas-Greenfield stated further that Nigeria needed to make important moves in its efforts to defeat Boko Haram.
“First, it is critical that the foot soldiers of Boko Haram – especially those who may not have joined wilfully – are able to leave the group and eventually be accepted back into their communities. The need for these pathways is one of the key lessons we’ve learned from conflicts across the globe. We are ready to help Nigeria support and encourage such defections and reintegration. This is difficult but necessary work.
“Second, people who have been forcibly displaced by Boko Haram must not be asked to return to their homes before those communities are safe and the displaced feel ready to return. Premature returns put IDPs in undue harm and are inconsistent with international norms. This, too, is an area where we look forward to working with Nigerians and the United Nations system.
“Third, Nigeria should invest more federal resources to meet the humanitarian needs of the victims of Boko Haram, while developing and implementing a long-term development strategy in collaboration with state governments and local authorities.
“We’re optimistic about the commitment Nigeria is showing to improving its security, and we will continue pressing our Nigerian partners to respond to threats responsibly, professionally, and transparently.”