Voice of America (Washington, DC)

Nigeria Wants Help to Find Girls, Contain Boko Haram

Abuja — As protesters gear up to mark a full month since hundreds of girls were kidnapped by Islamist militants, Nigerian officials are calling on the international community to not only help find the girls, but to develop a long-term plan to contain the insurgency.

Wednesday will mark a full month since the girls were kidnapped.

Protesters on Tuesday marched on the house of Kashim Shettima, the governor of Borno state, where militants known as Boko Haram kidnapped more than 300 schoolgirls.

The United States, Britain, France, China, Canada and Israel have offered to help find the girls.

But activists say that is not enough.

"There's no point for people to be sitting down and creating committees and meetings and things like that. It is easy," complained human rights lawyer Sa'ida Sa'ad. "The commander-in-chief of the armed forces of Nigeria can just issue out a statement. Tell somebody, command somebody somewhere to go into that forest, whatever that place is and get these girls out."

U.S. officials say they are committed both to helping Nigeria find the girls and to the larger fight against Boko Haram militants, who've been blamed for thousands of deaths in the past five years.

"The scourge of Boko Haram has continued to spread to neighboring regions and it has become an issue that really has been highlighted in this recent incident as deserving international attention," Sarah Sewal, U.S. undersecretary of state for civilian security, democracy and human rights, said during a visit Tuesday to the capital city of Abuja.

Some Nigerian officials say the kind of help provided by the international community in the past has not always been helpful.

However, Nigerian Minister of Foreign Affairs Aminu Wali said his country could use the world's help if it's extended not only to rescuing the missing girls, but to the larger fight against Boko Haram.

"The sudden influx is more like a fire brigade situation where there's a particular incident where the whole world wants to see it taken care of," Wali said. "Ah, OK, we'll take care of that and maybe the world will go back again and say (it's) business as usual. It is not. I want to appeal to the international community, it is not."

Wali said the international community should work on a long-term plan to contain Boko Haram.

Meanwhile, President Goodluck Jonathan asked lawmakers to extend emergency rule in northeast Nigeria. It was declared last May, after four years of insurgency, in the states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe.

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