US maintains it has no boots on the ground in Nigeria
"This is the Nigerian government's responsibility to find these girls. But we are committed to helping them in any way we can”
The U.S. refuted claims that it has boots on the ground in Nigeria to assist in the search for nearly 300 missing school girls, insisting that its personnel are there only in a support role for Nigerian authorities.
Boko Haram militants abducted an estimated 276 schoolgirls from the Chibok Government Girls Secondary School in Borno State 25 days ago.
"We're not talking boots on the ground at this point but there are a variety of ways we can assist and help there,” said Marie Harf, the U.S. State Department deputy spokeswoman while speaking to the press Thursday. "This is the Nigerian government's responsibility to find these girls. But we are committed to helping them in any way we can.”
The U.S. Department of Defense is sending 15 to 20 personnel from the military’s African Command to assist the 50 to 60 military personnel permanently assigned to Nigeria from the Office of Security and Cooperation and Defense Attaché staff, according to Harf.
"What they'll do is work with the Nigerians to determine what their needs are and how we can provide assistance and help,” said Harf.
She added that a team from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other agencies are already on the ground to assist in any potential hostage negotiations and with forensics. She did not specify the number from the bureau or other agencies.
An additional team of military advisors is on the way, according to Harf. CNN reported that they arrived on Friday.
USAID, the U.S.’s foreign assistance agency, is providing victim’s assistance to those girls that have escaped, said Harf.
It is likely that many of the girls still in Boko Haram’s custody have been moved out of Nigeria, Harf said.
The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Africa Affairs will convene a panel next Thursday to discuss U.S. assistance to Nigeria. The hearing will include representatives from the Department of State, Department of Defense and USAID.
Last Modified: 2014-05-10 14:05:54
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