ABUJA – The UN Security Council on Friday strongly condemned the abduction of hundreds of Nigerian schoolgirls, as the world body’s secretary general dispatched an envoy to help find them.
The diplomatic moves came after Amnesty International said that Nigeria’s military had been warned of an attack on a school in which more than 200 girls were abducted by Boko Haram Islamists three weeks ago, but failed to act for nearly five hours.
The Nigerian military denied the allegation and has launched a round-the-clock search for the missing girls.
At least 10 army search teams were trying to track down the girls in the remote far northeast, border guards were on high alert and the air force had so far flown at least 250 sorties.
Nigeria is keen to demonstrate that it is finally acting to trace the 223 girls still missing, after three weeks where the teenagers’ parents and families accused them of inaction and indifference.
But Amnesty’s allegations are likely to heap further pressure on Nigeria’s embattled government and military.
The unanimous UN Security Council declaration said the mass kidnappings “may amount to crimes against humanity” under international law, but made no explicit reference to charges in the International Criminal Court.
The 15 members of the council said they would follow the situation and consider “appropriate measures” to take against Boko Haram.
The statement urged their immediate release, without conditions.
Meanwhile, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon announced he was sending his special representative for West Africa, Said Djinnit, to Abuja to discuss ways of helping authorities locate the girls.
US, British and French experts have already arrived on the ground to help trace the schoolgirls.