The Australian government has offered to deploy its Special Forces to help Nigeria rescue more than 200 schoolgirls who were abducted on April 14 by the Boko Haram group from their secondary school in Chibok, Borno State.
Australia said the Special Air Service (SAS) regiment is on standby to deploy for the rescue if the Nigerian government accepts the offer, which Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop, told Sky News yesterday was yet to be responded to.
“Australian troops, the SAS, are always on standby for contingencies,” Bishop said.
“We have made an offer to the Nigerian government to provide whatever support they need to release the girls. We’ve made a specific offer to our UK and US allies … that we are ready to assist in whatever way we can.
“We have not had a response from the Nigerian government.
“They’ve thanked us for our willingness to be involved in trying to rescue the girls but we haven’t had any specific acceptance of the offers that we’ve made.”
The United States, United Kingdom, France and Israel are already helping Nigeria; all providing surveillance and intelligence support, and specialist teams, but no significant progress has been recorded.
The offer by Australia will be the first of such as no country had so far offered special troops for the rescue operations.
Troops deployed by the US were sent to Chad, with the promise that personnel would support the operation of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft for missions over northern Nigeria and the surrounding area.
Australia’s Green Party has however advised the country’s government to apply caution.
The party, which holds minority seats in the parliament, said the government must come clean with details of the Nigeria operation before getting involved.
“The Greens want to see the schoolgirls in Nigeria rescued,” the party’s leader, Christine Milne, was quoted by ABC Australia as saying.
“It is shocking to think all those young women have been dragged away and we don’t know the circumstances in which they find themselves but I think the PM needs to inform Australia fully as to what Australia would be getting into if we sent troops into Africa.”
The party said it was concerned at Australia again joining a coalition to take on another terrorist war in sub-Saharan Africa, as it did in Afghanistan.