QUESTION: Madam Ambassador, when you spoke about two days ago, America and other Western countries gave us hope that they will be assisting in the location and rescue of the girls. [Inaudible.] What has the American government been doing, or what does it intend to do, to help Nigeria locate and rescue the missing Chibok girls?
AMBASSADOR POWER: Thank you. I think this is a question burning in the minds and hearts of all Nigerians – understandably. Later today I will meet with some of the people who are rallying on behalf of the Chibok girls. And I would note – especially having come from Cameroon, where we met with lots of Nigerian refugees who have sought shelter in Cameroon – we met many mothers who had lost their daughters and their sons, as well, whose kids were abducted. And so I think it is very fair to say that the issue of abductions and kidnappings by Boko Haram of the Chibok girls and of all who have been taken is a huge priority for the United States and it’s one we discussed at length with President Buhari in the meeting from which the ambassador and I have just come.
I think that, as you know, we have – from the very beginning of this crisis – moved to provide the information and intelligence that we have to the Nigerian authorities. We have in recent months been able to allocate additional information-sharing platforms, additional surveillance. The way that that works is that the information and the intelligence works best and most effectively for the people of the countries in the region when our partners are acting on the ground effectively against Boko Haram. And acting effectively entails both effective security operations, but also being responsive to the needs of the civilian population – whether in Nigeria, or in Cameroon, Chad, any of the countries in the region affected by Boko Haram.
So, the parents of the Chibok girls remain heartbroken, they are understandably incredibly frustrated that the international community, for all of its concern, has not been able to deliver for them the only thing that matters, which is their children. And as a mother, I can only imagine what that’s like. But, again, we need to have a combined, multidimensional approach that combines whatever information we have – and Boko Haram has been very good at shrouding its kidnappings – with operations on the ground that take back territory and that allow civil administration to get set up again, and that allow families to be reunited. And – especially in the case of people who have been kidnapped and coerced into traveling and living with Boko Haram – pyscho-social care for all of the trauma that they’ve endured.
And we will not rest; we will continue to deepen our partnership. And the more effective our partners on the ground become in pursuing the security, the economic, and the political all at once, I think the more success we are going to have. And you’ve seen that in February and March, thousands of civilians were rescued from the clutches of Boko Haram, and we are determined to support Nigerian and the other countries’ efforts to secure more rescues and more releases in the days and weeks ahead.
QUESTION: Was the recent Chibok girls video [inaudible] the President – was that video enough proof that all the girls are still alive?
AMBASSADOR POWER: I think what we talked about was the importance of pursuing every lead related to the Chibok girls and making sure that we have mechanisms whereby parents and family members of people who have been abducted by Boko Haram can come forward with information; whereby videos – like the one that you reference – or the prior videos can be examined; and whereby family members also can offer their feedback on their impressions of the videos. So to have a process by which the families of those who are missing work more and more constructively with the government and indeed with those who are involved in operations to try to rescue the girls. So that was the nature of our discussion. The video was one part of a larger puzzle that has to be assembled.