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U.S., U.K. pledge help finding abducted Nigerian schoolgirls

May 7, 2014 at 6:25 PM EDT
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JUDY WOODRUFF: There was more deadly unrest in Nigeria today. Officials there say hundreds of people were killed in a militant attack on a northeastern border town. This comes as a team of specialists from the United States heads to the country to support efforts to free more than 270 abducted schoolgirls.

We have an on-the-ground report from Rageh Omaar of Independent Television News.

RAGEH OMAAR: The capital of Nigeria in a state of lockdown, amidst tight security for an economic conference, normally bustling streets left almost empty.

But for ordinary Nigerians, there is only one issue dominating the headlines and piling pressure on the government. Reverend Aaron Noirmbita fled Chibok, where the girls were kidnapped. He manages to get through on the phone to a father in the town whose daughter is still missing. The father in Chibok paints a harrowing picture of a town still living in fear and where people are haunted by what could be happening to the girls.

REV. AARON NOIRMBITA, Chibok Community Leader: He said even the soldiers are running away together with the people.

RAGEH OMAAR: So where are they sleeping then if they leave the town?

REV. AARON NOIRMBITA: They are going to sleep in the bush or on the mountain hills.

RAGEH OMAAR: The men, women, children?

REV. AARON NOIRMBITA: Everybody. That’s what he’s saying.

This man that I have just spoken to has said that nothing is good for them again in life. He said is now — it’s like he’s not himself anymore, because it is better that you know that the child is dead. But when the child is alive and in the hands of people who you know can kill, people who you know can rape…

RAGEH OMAAR: It’s to prevent Boko Haram from doing this that the United States and the U.K. are now sending specialist military and diplomatic advisers to assist Nigeria. Time is of the essence and the government here is adamant it is doing everything it can.

DR. DOYIN OKUPE, Presidential Adviser: Special divisions of two battalions have been dedicated to this search. Virtually all military communication apparatus of the Nigerian army has been moved to Borno state to facilitate communications among both the ground troops and, you know, the air surveillance.

RAGEH OMAAR: This has become a crisis of international proportions. But even with the eyes of the world on the growing efforts to get them back, parents remain angry that so much time has already been lost.