President Barack Obama announced that the U.S. will officially be working with the Nigerian government in the effort to bring home the 223 schoolgirls kidnapped by the terrorist group Boko Horam.

Over 200 Girls Captured In Nigeria By Boko Horam

Boko Horam sparked an international outcry after the organization abducted a reported 276 girls at gunpoint in northeastern Nigeria on April 14 – 53 girls were able to escape, leaving 223 in captivity. The tragic event slowly gained media attention and quickly became an international headline and cause for widespread outrage, spawning the popular hashtag “Bring Back Our Girls.”

On Thursday, May 1, the U.S. State Department announced that they were reaching out to the Nigerian government to offer their services in the fight against Boko Horam.

“We have been engaged with the Nigerian government in discussions on what we might do to help support their efforts to find and free these young women. We will continue to have those discussions and help in any way we can,” said Marie Harf, spokeswoman for the State Department.

Harf did not expand upon the nature of the help being offered, but increased pressure to come up with a tangible plan came after a man believed to be Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau announced in a video that he intends to sell the girls as child brides or slaves.

“I abducted your girls. I will sell them in the market by Allah… There is a market for selling humans. Allah says I should sell. He commands me to sell. I will sell women. I sell women,” Shekau declared on the tape.

It is believed that Boko Haram has been selling the young girls across Nigerian boarders in Chad and Cameroon, narrowing their chance for rescue.

Boko Haram calls for the end of Western education and stands firmly against the education of women, and Shekau’s comments did nothing but strengthen and spread the message to “Bring Back Our Girls.”

President Obama Sending Help To Nigeria

On Tuesday, President Obama announced that the Nigerian government had accepted the United States’ aid in this matter, saying, “We’re going to do everything we can to provide assistance to them.”

The US will be sending a team of military and law-enforcement officials to work with Nigerian forces overseas to help navigate the search for the missing girls. To be clear, no troops are being sent to Nigeria at this time.

“In the short term our goal is obviously to help the international community, and the Nigerian government, as a team to do everything we can to recover these young ladies. But we’re also going to have to deal with the broader problem of organizations like this that… can cause such havoc in people’s day-to-day lives,” Obama told NBC.

President Obama was quick to point out that the situation in Nigeria and the violent attacks perpetrated by Boko Haram is not exactly new; the terrorist organization was created 12 years ago and has ties to al Qaeda. Obama is adamant that any intervention or help sent to Nigeria is not simply to recover the missing girls, but also to help Nigeria fight against Boko Haram as a whole.

“Obviously what’s happening is awful, and as a father of two girls I can’t imagine what their parents are going through. But, this organization, Boko Horam, has been one of the worst regional or local terrorist organizations in the world. We’ve long sought to work with Nigeria on dealing with them and we’re going to do everything we can to assist them in recovering these young women,” Obama said in an interview with CBS.

Secretary of State John Kerry said that the team would be based at the U.S. embassy in Nigeria, adding that they are prepared to begin “immediately.”

“Our embassy in Abuja is prepared to form a coordination cell that could provide expertise on intelligence, investigations and hostages negotiations and to help facilitate information-sharing and victim assistance,” Kerry said.

Many are wondering why it has taken so long for international forces to get involved, and others have criticized the Nigerian government’s initial response to the massive abduction. Kerry told reporters that the lack of international response was due to the Nigerian government’s initial strategy, adding that discussions with Nigeria have been ongoing since the girls were abducted. The Nigerian government recently announced that they are offering a $300,000 for information that leads to finding the girls.

Meanwhile, the “Bring Back Our Girls” movement has inspired protests around the world and continues to have a large presence on Twitter.

#BringBackOurGirls

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