The United Nations Children Funds UNICEF has called for the release of about 150 students abducted from their school in Niger state recently.
UNICEF noted that it’s two weeks since the kids were abducted from the Salihu Tanko Islamiya School in Tegina, Rafi Local Government Area of Niger State.
A statement by the body expressed deep concern about the fate of the children – some of whom are as young as 3 years and called for their immediate and unconditional release.
“We are appalled that two weeks after 150 students were abducted from their school, they continue to be held by their abductors,” said Rushnan Murtaza, Representative UNICEF Nigeria.
“Parents are grieving their children’s ‘disappearance’; siblings are missing their brothers and sisters – these children must be immediately and unconditionally released and safely reunited with their families.”
“It is horrifying that schools and schoolchildren continue to be targets of the attack – and in this particular incident, even children as young as 3 years old. We can only begin to imagine how frightened they are, and the impact this will have on their mental health and well-being,” he stressed.
UNICEF stressed that attacks on students and schools are not only reprehensible but a gross violation of the rights of children to an education. It is a right that any society can ill-afford to violate.
The organization called on the Nigerian Government to take all measures to protect schools in the country, and implement the promises made in the Financing Safe Schools in Nigeria Conference in April this year so that children will not be fearful of going to school, and parents afraid of sending their children to school.
“Schools must be safe places to study and develop, and learning should not be a risky endeavour,” said Rushnan Murtaza.
“There are very few – if any – things more important for any society than ensuring the safe education of its children.” The release noted.