by Ian Lucas, Labour Spokesman for Africa
Over 200 girls have been missing in Nigeria for almost three weeks.
The blunt truth of that statement is shocking, and more abductions have since taken place.
In recent days, Boko Haram have claimed responsibility for the abductions from Chibok in a chilling statement. This, their latest heinous crime, has captured the attention of the international community in a way that surpasses even the many other harrowing crimes committed since their insurgency began over five years ago.
Despite reports that a small number of the girls have escaped, or since been released, the whereabouts of the majority of the girls is still unknown. Understandably there are grave concerns about their welfare – concerns which are growing daily.
News that eight more girls have been kidnapped, and reports today that up to 300 people have been killed in the northeastern Nigerian town of Gamboru Ngala, only underlines the severity of the situation.
It is vital that in the crucial days and weeks ahead, the UK government work with its international partners to add their weight and expertise to the search, and make clear what part they are playing in global efforts to assist the Nigerian government.
Yesterday, the prime minister rightly added his strong and unequivocal condemnation of the actions of Boko Haram today in the House of Commons.
Hours later, Downing Street confirmed that the UK intends to deploy a team of experts, to support the Nigerian-led effort to rescue the captured school girls.
Labour has called on ministers to make a fuller statement to Parliament, and in the days and weeks ahead, it is right that the international community stay focused on securing the release of these innocent victims of a wholly unjustified and horrendous attack that has truly shocked the world.