Eight more young girls have been reported kidnapped in Nigeria´s north eastern state of Borno Monday night, adding to the over 200 girls who`ve been abducted in the country in the last month. The average ages of those being kidnapped are between 12-18 years old.
The abductions are part of a larger string of violence and kidnappings carried out in the country by Boko Haram, an Islamic extremist group whose name is said to loosely translate as “western education is forbidden”. The leader of the group, Abubakar Shekau, has already claimed responsibility in a video released publicly, where he also revealed their plan to sell the girls as slaves.
Members of Boko Haram are also responsible for opening fire and bombing civilian areas. Sunday, they opened fire and propelled grenades at an open market in the village of Gamborou, also in Borno State, killing up to 52 people - a move Boko Haram reportedly said was meant to punish the villagers who they thought were aiding police with their investigations.
In the country´s capital of Abuja, people have taken to the streets to protest against the violence, but also to critique the government for the lack of security and to demand stronger action. Currently the Nigerian government has a $6billion security budget, but at the moment has very little to show for it.
But the country is soon expected to open its doors to outside help. Tuesday, it was announced that Nigeria`s President Goodluck Jonathan agreed to accept the US`s offer for military aid, after previously refusing it. The US State Department announced their plans to send a “coordinated cell” to Nigeria that would consist of US military personal and law enforcement with expertise in investigations and hostage negotiations.
"Now, the complications that have arisen convinced everybody that there needs to be a greater effort and it will begin immediately," John Kerry said at a joint news conference with EU policy chief Catherine Ashton. "I think you will see a very rapid response."
Nigeria had previously refused the US´s offer for help or intervention in the area. The country has a long history of refusing requests for the US to operate on Nigerian soil, and as a result the US has opened operations in neighbouring Niger to stay as close as possible to the region. But since violence and abductions continue, Nigeria is having a hard time justifying ignoring offers for outside intervention any longer.
Officials in the UK have also been meeting to decide what aid they can offer to Nigeria, but the British Foreign Office and Ministry of Defense refuse to release what form that would take until Nigeria officially asks for help. Officials have said that Special Forces would be deployed if Nigeria asked for them.
The UK Special Forces are generally only deployed when their citizens or residents are being held captive, but the British Foreign Secretary, William Hague said the girls are being treated as “spoils of war by Boko Haram”.
This Wednesday, the World Economic Forum on Africa is also set to open in Nigeria`s capital of Abuja. Just a few kilometers from the chaos in the north east of the country, hundreds of leaders in business, government, academia and politics will join to discuss progress in economic growth, progress for reducing poverty and persistent inequality in the continent. There are no plans to cancel the Forum, and at the very least is expected to help bring international attention to the issues.