The Nigerian schoolgirls who remain captives of Boko Haram militants "definitely" face the danger of being raped, a senior United Nations official has said.
"My worry is those girls don't come back half of them pregnant," the world body's special representative on sexual violence in conflict, Zainab Hawa Bangura told a luncheon at the British Residence in New York.
A friend of the Archbishop of Canterbury has been working secretly to help to free the Nigerian schoolgirls who have been kidnapped by Boko Haram extremists, according to the Sunday Times (£).
Stephen Davis, a former canon at Coventry Cathedral, is said to have held face-to-face talks with a senior commander of the group after travelling to its stronghold and sleeping out in the bush.
Davis told the newspaper that he has been in Nigeria for almost a month after being recruited by the country’s president for his hostage negotiation expertise.
He previously worked in Nigeria with Justin Welby, head of the Anglican Church, to broker a truce between violent rebels and the government. The pair were frequently blindfolded and held at gunpoint during their work.
An education commissioner for the Nigerian Borno state has told Reuters that four more girls kidnapped by Boko Haram militants last month have escaped their captors, leaving 219 still missing.
The girls were taking exams at a secondary school in the remote northeastern village of Chibok on April 14 when the Islamist gunmen surrounded it, loaded them onto trucks and carted them off. Fifty-three escaped shortly afterwards.
Education commissioner Musa Inuwa declined to give further details of the escape.
The Nigerian president has received a video of the kidnapped schoolgirls begging him to organise a prisoner swap so they can be released, The Daily Telegraph reports.
The claim comes from a Nigerian journalist, named as Ahmed Salkida, acting as an intermediary between militant group Boko Haram and the Nigerian authorities.
Boko Haram are said to have sent Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan the video two weeks ago, with interviews with some of the girls urging the authorities to help free them.
The journalist alleges that a deal to free 50 of the girls in exchange for 50 prisoners was in place last Monday, only to be abandoned after Western government pressurised Mr Jonathan not to negotiate a swap.
Boko Haram gunmen have attacked and killed 24 security personnel after simultaneous raids in the north-eastern town of Buni Yadi, security sources and witness said.
The attacks occurred at a Nigerian military base and adjacent police barracks, not far from where the Islamist insurgents shot and burned to death 59 pupils at a boarding school in February.
Cameroon's defence ministry spokesman has said that the Central African nation has deployed some 1,000 troops and armoured vehicles to its border region with Nigeria to counter a rising threat from Boko Haram Islamist militants.
Lieutenant Colonel Didier Badjeck said: "Their mission will be to carry out reconnaissance and be ready to respond with enough fire power."
Boko Haram, which outraged international opinion with the abduction of some 200 schoolgirls in northern Nigeria seven weeks ago, has also carried out attacks in northern Cameroon.
A Nigerian defence official has indicated that the government will not use force to rescue the girls being held captive by Islamist militant Boko Haram.
The state news agency quoted Defence Staff Air Marshal Alex Badeh saying: "The good news for the parents of the girls is that we know where they are, but we cannot tell you."
"But where they are held, can we go there with force? We can't kill our girls in the name of trying to get them back."
The Nigerian Chief of Defence staff has said that the military is aware of the location of the abducted schoolgirls but has decided not to reveal their whereabouts yet, the state news agency has said.
Air Marshal Alex Badeh is also reported as saying that the Nigerian government would not 'use force' to rescue the girls held by Boko Haram.
The United States welcomed the United Nations Security Council's decision to sanction Nigerian terror group Boko Haram as a "important step" that shows "global unity" against their savage actions.
The UN Security Council has announced that it has blacklisted the Islamist militant group Boko Haram after they kidnapped nearly 300 schoolgirls in Nigeria.
The sanctions imposed on the group include a travel ban, arms embargo and the freezing of all international assets.
Nigeria has been reluctant until recently to seek international help to combat Boko Haram.