WASHINGTON, DC—Representative Eliot L. Engel, the leading Democrat on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today delivered the following remarks on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives in support of H.Res. 573, a resolution condemning the abduction of nearly 300 female students by the extremist group Boko Haram in Nigeria:

“Thank you Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of H.Res. 573, and I yield myself as much time as I may consume.

“I’d like to begin by thanking our former Committee colleague, Ms. Frederica Wilson of Florida, for authoring this important resolution. I’d like to also thank the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Ed Royce, for working with us on this piece of legislation in a bipartisan manner.

“This resolution strongly condemns the abduction of nearly [300] schoolgirls by the Nigerian terrorist group, Boko Haram, and supports U.S. and international efforts to assist in their recovery.

“On April 14, these schoolgirls were doing what young women and girls all over the world do every day—studying for tests, playing with friends, building a future for themselves. That day, Boko Haram, which roughly translates to ‘Western Education is Forbidden,’ abducted these girls—tore them away from their families and their communities.

“Today, more than a month later, we still don’t know where they are. Our thoughts are with their families and we pray that they are safely reunited with their children as soon as possible.

“This mass abduction is only the latest atrocity committed by Boko Haram. Since 2010, they have launched hundreds of attacks, and murdered over 5,000 people. The group has burned schools and killed students, attacked churches and mosques, murdered Christian and Muslim religious leaders, and set off bombs in the capital city of Abuja.

“The United States and other international partners have offered assistance to bring the schoolgirls home and we all hope these efforts will prove successful. But we must also recognize that Nigeria’s approach to countering Boko Haram has not been effective. With its heavy-handed approach, the Nigerian military has often alienated the very population that could be providing valuable information about Boko Haram’s activities. Instead of fostering relationships with the community, the military has built a record of indiscriminate destruction, theft of personal property, arbitrary arrests, indefinite detention, torture and extrajudicial killing of civilians—all of this with impunity. This serves only to help Boko Haram recruit and radicalize new members.

“I hope the Nigerian Government will see this kidnapping and the reaction of Nigerian citizens as a wake-up call to reevaluate their counter-terrorism strategy, and that we can work with them to develop a comprehensive strategy to combat Boko Haram—one that includes civil society, development, and better civil-military relations. Meanwhile, we in the United States must do all we can to ensure that these girls are returned home to their families, safely and soundly.

“Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues to join me in supporting this important resolution, and I reserve the balance of my time.”


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Watch Rep. Engel's Floor Statement Here