A United States diplomat has been sent to Nigeria in the wake of violence from Islamist extremist group Boko Haram, and the continued disappearance of more than 200 female students. The Nigerian newspaper Leadership claims that the trip was approved by President Barack Obama as “a result of persistent discussions between the U.S. leader and members of his cabinet” on the need for foreign intervention to curb further violence. The State Department issued a press release on Thursday announcing that Rick Barton, assistant secretary for Conflict and Stabilization Operations, will be in Nigeria to attend the premiere of “‘Dawn in the Creeks,’ a CSO-funded, Nigerian-led television program that showcases stories of non-violent problem-solving in communities throughout the Niger Delta.”
More than 200 schoolgirls, aged between 16 and 18, were kidnapped from their school in Chibok, northeast Nigeria, last week —one day after an explosion at a bus station in capital city Abuja killed 75 people — and are still missing. It is believed that Boko Haram is behind the capture. But despite a demand from the United Nations for the girls to be released, and the Nigerian government vowing to do all it can to find them, many are surprised by the lack of global media attention given to the story. A Change.org petition has received around than 1,000 signatures, and asks, "[W]hy doesn't anybody care?" while some journalists are baffled over a lack of public interest. The last time Nigeria was discussed during the State Department press briefing was on Monday, April 14.