Three weeks after the horrifying abduction of 276 teenaged schoolgirls from their boarding house in Nigeria — and the release of a chilling video in which their abductors threatened to sell the girls as “slaves” — the world has started paying attention.
The Nigerian police have just offered a 50 million naira ($324,600) reward for information leading to the girls’ rescue — a sign that, after an initially fumbled response, the government may be starting to respond to domestic and international pressure to act.
Several major world powers have joined the search for the missing girls, who were kidnapped by armed Boko Haram Islamists on April 14.
US Secretary of State John Kerry promised help on Saturday, pledging to do “everything possible to support the Nigerian government to return these young women to their homes and to hold the perpetrators to justice”. On Tuesday, US President Barack Obama said a team of military experts has been sent to assist Nigeria’s rescue mission.
Britain has also offered its assistance to the kidnap response with British PM David Cameron condemning the kidnappers as “pure evil” on Wednesday and sending a team of experts to help.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang has reportedly pledged assistance, while French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius has said a “special team” was at Nigeria’s disposal, The Sydney Morning Herald reports.
In Australia, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop on Tuesday directed her department’s head of counter-terrorism to contact the Nigerian High Commissioner to offer support.
But Labor is urging that the Abbott government to do more, with Shadow foreign affairs spokeswoman Tanya Plibersek urging the government to use our position on the UN Security Council to drive an effective international response.
Today, former Prime Minister Julia Gillard and chair of the Global Partnership for Education tweeted a statement expressing her concern over the abduction — a move that signalled her return to public life.
“My thoughts and heartfelt feelings are with the families of these girls and I hope they will soon be able to embrace their daughters once more,” she tweeted.