Foreign Office Minister Mark Simmonds to travel to Nigeria for high-level meetings to discuss further UK assistance.
Following the abduction of over 200 school girls in northern Nigeria on 14 April, Foreign Office Minister for Africa Mark Simmonds will visit Abuja on 14 May for high-level meetings with Nigerian authorities to explore what further assistance and advice the UK can provide in support of Nigeria’s efforts to secure the girls’ release and to deal with the threat posed by the extremist group Boko Haram.
The UK team of experts, in Abuja since 9 May, is co-operating closely with the Government of Nigeria and other international partners to provide assistance to Nigeria in dealing with this abduction and addressing longer term challenges.
Minister for Africa Mark Simmonds said:
This is an horrific and heartbreaking situation and the UK wants to do all it can to offer support to the Nigerian efforts to secure the release of the kidnapped girls. We condemn the actions of Boko Haram and all that they stand for. Yesterday’s callous and shocking video of some of the missing school girls will only make it harder for their families to deal with this agonising ordeal. This shows exactly why the UK and others have sent teams to help the Nigerians in their efforts to find them and bring them home.
Continuing murders and abductions of school children, particularly girls in Nigeria by Boko Haram are a stark reminder of the threat faced by women and girls in conflict prone areas. Young children are being denied universal freedoms such as an education. They are being denied opportunity and the ability to live their lives as they choose. Girls are being threatened with sexual violence in forced marriages. This underlines the importance of the FCO’s Summit in London next month on Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict.
I look forward to discussing further ways that the UK and international partners can work with Nigeria in helping them secure the girls’ release, as well as how we can assist with economic and developmental solutions to address Boko Haram in the longer term.
Andrew Pocock, British High Commissioner to Nigeria, said:
The abductions have been traumatic for the Nigerian people. Britain, as a friend of Nigeria, is working urgently to help the Nigerian authorities in their efforts to find the girls and tackle longer term challenges in the north, such as education and stability.
Brigadier Ivan Jones said:
The Nigerian military have welcomed our arrival and we are working together closely to build the information picture and establish where else we can co-operate.
No one should underestimate the scale and complexity of this incident and environment. But it is clear that there are areas where we can have a real impact on their capability, building on the close co-operation and training that already exists.
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