The State Department indicated Wednesday that hasn't done anything to ramp up efforts lately to find hundreds of Nigerian girls nearly two years after they were abducted by Boko Haram in 2014, and instead said the U.S. continues to offer steady to support to help Nigeria boost its security service, and to help victims of the terrorist group.
State Department spokesman Mark Toner was asked Wednesday whether efforts were being made to step up efforts to find the girls, but said only that most of the effort was being left to Nigeria itself.
"Ramp up efforts in this particular regard?" Toner said. "I mean, look, we — we're working closely. I mean, this is obviously a Nigerian government-led effort."
"I would say we've continued to ramp up efforts over the past couple of years, not only because of this incident but because of repeated ongoing Boko Haram terrorist activity attacks on innocent civilians across Nigeria," Toner added. "[W]e realize that there's an urgency here, that Boko Haram is exerting a terrible influence and is really a scourge on the Nigerian population."
Toner then said the U.S. is always looking for ways to do more, but had nothing specific to offer.
"So of course we're looking at ways that we can ramp up our support for Nigeria's security services," he said. "But as I said, also the other aspect of this is assistance — any assistance that we can provide to help the victims of these attacks, whether they're from the terrorist attacks or kidnap victims as well."
On April 15, 2014, 276 female students were abducted by Boko Haram in Chibok in the Borno State of Nigeria. Fifty-seven were eventually released, but 219 are still missing and are presumably still being held against their will.
Soon after, the White House participated in a PR campaign to bring attention the event, which included a hashtag campaign called #BringBackOurGirls, featuring First Lady Michelle Obama.
Toner rejected the idea that public scrutiny of the event has faded after two years.
"I mean, we do speak publicly about these attacks when they take place — condemning them, obviously, very strongly," he said. "I certainly don't want to give the impression that it's somehow off the radar screen, because they have consistently carried out, as you note, a series of terrible attacks on innocent civilians — attacking churches, attacking villages, attacking innocent civilians in a variety of circumstances — and they need to be stopped."
Toner added that the U.S. has a team in the Nigerian capital of Abuja that includes various U.S. officials who are working with Nigeria on the kidnapping.