US First Lady Michelle Obama on Saturday denounced as an “unconscionable act” the kidnapping of more than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls by Islamic militants as a mobilised international community helped Nigeria search for them.
For the first time standing in for President Barack Obama on his weekly Saturday morning address, Michelle Obama said she and her husband were “outraged and heartbroken” over the mass abduction of the girls from their school dormitory in a remote corner of north Nigeria last month.
Their sentiments were shared by “millions of people across the globe,” she said.
This violence “was not an isolated incident ... it’s a story we see every day as girls around the world risk their lives to pursue their ambitions,” Michelle Obama said.
“This unconscionable act was committed by a terrorist group determined to keep these girls from getting an education - grown men attempting to snuff out the aspirations of young girls.”
OFFERS OF HELP
On April 14, 276 schoolgirls were abducted in the northeastern Nigerian town of Chibook, with eight more seized from Warabe on May 5. Three weeks later 223 girls are still missing.
The abductions have sparked offers of help from the United States, Britain, France and China. Seven military officials from the US Africa regional command AFRICOM along with a State Department expert arrived in Nigeria on Friday, and three FBI personnel and four others from State and the USAID aid agency were due in the country on Saturday.
“They’ll be providing technical and investigatory assistance, helping with hostage negotiations, advising on military planning and operations and assisting with intelligence and information,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.
Among the help on offer would be intelligence sharing as the teams work to track down the girls, who range in age from 16 to 18.
Britain said on Wednesday it would send a small team to Nigeria to concentrate on planning, coordination and advice to local authorities.