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Parents urge government to get international help to free schoolgirls

04 May 2014, 15:46

Abuja -Desperate parents of the more than 200 abducted schoolgirls called for authorities there to bring in foreign help to secure their release.

Frustrated by the lack of progress so far in trying to free their daughters, the parents called on authorities to use support from other countries.

"By all means, lets get the support we need from global players," a former World Bank vice president, Obiageli Ezekwesili, said in a televised interview.

She was speaking at the venue of a sit-in protest organised by dozens of mothers and women in Abuja in support of the release of the girls.

"What these women are saying is that they want their daughters freed," added Ezekwesili.

The women vowed to sustain their pressure onauthorities to secure the release of 223 schoolgirls still being held byBoko Hara.

Police on Friday put the figure at 223 out of 276 girls seized on April 14 from their school in Chibok, revising upwards the number of youngsters abducted.

School and government officials inBorno had previously given lower figures on the number of girls being held.

Gunmen believed to be Islamist fighters stormed the girls' boarding school, forcing them from their dormitories onto trucks and driving them into the bush.

"We need the support of other nations. We cannot just continue to be big brother for nothing," said another woman protester.

Thegovernment said that it has set up a committee, presided over by a senior army general, to advise it on a mission to secure the release of the girls.

Isa Umar Gusau, spokesman of Borno state government, said that the state has been given three slots on the committee.

A father of one of the abducted girls in Chibok dismissed the effectiveness of this committee, expected to be inaugurated on Tuesday.

"Our frustration is increasing with every passing day...why can't the government seek assistance from other nations?," asked the parent, who demanded anonymity.

"Government sets up committees but the findings and recommendations of such committees are never implemented. This committee set up will not be different from other ones."

US Secretary of State John Kerry on Saturday vowed that Washington will do "everything possible" to help Nigeria deal with Boko Haram militants.

"Let me be clear. The kidnapping of hundreds of children by Boko Haram is an unconscionable crime," Kerry said in a policy speech in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.

"We will do everything possible to support the Nigerian government to return these young women to their homes and hold the perpetrators to justice. That is our responsibility and the world's responsibility," he said.

Meanwhile, President Goodluck Jonathan was expected to meet in Abuja the Borno state governor, Kashim Shettima, and the head teacher of the Chibok school from where the girls were kidnapped.

Jonathan is also scheduled to hold a radio and television chat Sunday evening "on current national issues and developments", his office said in a statement.

Jonathan "will respond to the most significant questions received before or during the programme," it said.



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