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Boko Haram Survivors Renew Push to #BringBackOurGirls

Jackson Lee hugged Nigerian student Saa, on the one-year anniversary of her kidnapping. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Two schoolgirls who escaped the terrorist group Boko Haram solemnly marked the one-year anniversary of their kidnapping by climbing the steps of the Capitol to tie a red ribbon around one of its stately columns.  

As part of the "Bring Back Our Girls" campaign, Saa, 19, and Patience, 18, joined House lawmakers pleading for the U.S. government and the international community to intervene in and assist Nigerian efforts. During the April 15 press conference on the East Front, Democrats talked about bipartisan efforts underway to provide more resources and Saa shared her resolve to escape from Boko Haram. "I turned, and looked at my friend and told her that, 'I'm going to jump out of the truck. I'd rather die that my parents have my body … than to go with the Boko Haram because I don't know where I'm going. Are you going to jump with me?' And she said said 'yes,' she will jump with me," she said. "Then when we jumped out of the truck, that night she injured her leg and she crawled on her tummy. We tried to find help that night. By the help of God, the next day, we found help in the forest."  

Saa, who is now attending school in Virginia, said she found the phrase, "Give me liberty or give me death," when she arrived in America.  

"When I heard that, I remembered the time I decided to jump out of the truck, that I'd rather die or live. ... And here I am now free and now here to continue with my studies. But my colleagues are still in the hands of the terrorists. ... I'm pleading the international community to do all our best and try to bring those girls back to school," she said.  

The girls joined arms with Rep. Frederica S. Wilson, who traveled to Nigeria with a congressional delegation in the wake of the 2014 abductions to examine U.S. and international efforts to assist with the rescue. The Florida Democrat, sporting red from her sequined cowboy hat to the pointed tip of her boots, promised to "tweet, tweet, tweet" to call attention to the campaign, in addition to pushing for Congress to provide resources.  "The U.S. is the nucleus for pushing for what is now the military coalition led by Chad," said Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, referring to joint efforts with troops from Niger and Nigeria to drive out Boko Haram militants. With appropriations hearings underway, Jackson Lee said she is looking for members overseeing defense or foreign operations spending to focus additional funds on helping the 1.2 million people displaced by the Islamic militant group. She also indicated a separate legislative effort is afoot to release money stolen from Nigeria.  

Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, D-N.Y., called for prayer. "We must bring these terrorists to justice," she said. "We cannot accept a world where horrific acts are carried out against young girls just because they want an education."  

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