First Lady Michelle Obama delivered her first solo weekly address Saturday in which she spoke about her outrage over the kidnapping of hundreds of Nigerian schoolgirls who have been missing for almost a month. In the address, the first lady said that “like millions of people across the globe, my husband and I are outraged and heartbroken” over the kidnapping “committed by a terrorist group determined to keep these girls from getting an education—grown men attempting to snuff out the aspirations of young girls.”
Speaking out on Mother’s Day weekend, Michelle Obama said that the kidnapping was important to her not only as first lady but “more importantly, as the mother of two young daughters.” Making it clear that the issue had become personal, the first lady added that “in these girls, Barack and I see our own daughters. We see their hopes, their dreams—and we can only imagine the anguish their parents are feeling right now.”
The militant Islamist group Boko Haram kidnapped more than 300 girls from their school in a remote region of Nigeria’s northeast. Although 53 have managed to escape, according to the Associated Press, around 276 remain captive and Boko Haram has threatened to sell them into slavery.
Meanwhile, there are hints that the increasing international pressure is pushing Nigeria to step up its efforts to look for the abducted girls even as some warn the presence of international troops could lead to a wave of terrorist attacks. The country’s Army has posted two divisions to look for the girls, reports Reuters. In the first hint that the Nigerian government knows something about the whereabouts of the girls, President Goodluck Jonathan said he believed they were still in the country.