During meeting with Secretary Kerry and other women Senators, Klobuchar discussed how groups like Boko Haram routinely target women and children for abduction in order to force them into marriage and servitude
To help ensure Nigeria and neighboring nations are able to better prevent and respond to these types of incidents, Klobuchar today urged the Administration to direct additional resources from existing U.S. assistance programs toward programs that combat human trafficking
Klobuchar: “This is a signal moment in the international fight against human trafficking”
WASHINGTON, DC – After attending a meeting with Secretary of State John Kerry yesterday, U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) today continued to press the Administration to bolster support for anti-human trafficking programs in Nigeria and surrounding countries. During a meeting with Secretary Kerry and other women Senators, Klobuchar discussed how groups like Boko Haram routinely target women and children for abduction in order to force them into marriage and servitude. In a letter to the Department of State today, Klobuchar stressed that in order to help Nigeria and neighboring nations better prevent and respond to these types of incidents, the Administration should direct additional resources from existing U.S. assistance programs toward programs that combat human trafficking.
“Groups like Boko Haram deliberately target women and girls for kidnapping in order to force them into marriages and lives of servitude,” Klobuchar said. “The recent threat from Boko Haram’s leader to sell the kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls is simply the latest outrage in a much broader problem. That’s why it’s so important that we do more to bolster anti-trafficking efforts across the region to ensure that similar incidents don’t happen again.”
Last week, Senators Klobuchar and Mark Kirk (R-IL) called on the Administration to provide intelligence support to help locate and recover the kidnapped girls and to bolster anti-trafficking assistance in the region. Klobuchar also joined with all 20 women Senators to condemn Boko Haram’s abduction and to urge the U.S. to get the United Nations to designate Boko Haram as a terrorist group, which would trigger additional international sanctions on the group.
The full text of Klobuchar’s letter is below:
Dear Secretary Kerry,
I write to urge you to direct additional resources from existing U.S. assistance programs to Nigeria and neighboring countries toward programs that combat human trafficking. As you have noted, the recent abduction of 276 Nigerian schoolgirls by the terrorist group Boko Haram represents a signal moment in the international fight against human trafficking and the United States should do whatever possible to assist in safely returning these abducted girls to their homes. It is also clear that the United States must do more to bolster anti-trafficking efforts in the region to ensure that outrages like this are not repeated.
As you know, Nigeria and its neighbors, particularly Niger, Chad, and Cameroon, are afflicted by the terrorism of Boko Haram and related organizations. These groups engage in the targeting of children and women for abduction in order to force them into marriage and servitude. The threat by the leader of Boko Haram to “sell [the abducted girls] in the market” is just the latest example of the confluence between terrorism and human trafficking in the region.
In addition to substantial bilateral assistance, Nigeria and its neighbors are key recipients of U.S. counterterrorism and security assistance through the Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership (TSCTP), Partnership for Regional East African Counterterrorism (PREACT), and West Africa Regional Security Initiative (WARSI). While these programs are important, they do not provide specific assistance to security forces and law enforcement to address the threat of human trafficking perpetrated by transnational terrorist groups like Boko Haram. The resource mismatch is significant: while TSCTP, PREACT, and WARSI were funded at a combined level of $57.4 million in FY2013, trafficking in persons programming across the continent only received $964,000.
I strongly believe that anti-trafficking programming should be integrated into our counterterrorism programs in order to ensure that our security partners in this region are better able to prevent and respond to incidents like the Nigerian abductions in the future. This would entail trained armed forces, local law enforcement, and judicial systems to recognize incidents of trafficking and to proactively protect women and children targeted by terrorists.
Thank you for your attention to this important matter.