Save the Children, an international aid group that focuses on children has condemned the abduction of 317 schoolgirls in Zamfara State, Northwest Nigeria.
Heavily armed terrorists, dressed in army uniforms, stormed the Government Girls Secondary School, Jangebe, and abducted the schoolgirls in the wee hours of Friday.
The attack comes as the country awaits the return of 42 persons, including 15 students kidnapped from Government Science College, Kagara in Niger State, Northcentral Nigeria, about a week ago.
A statement signed by Amanuel Mamo, the group’s Director of Advocacy and Campaigns in Nigeria, said attacks on schools carried out so far were unacceptable, saying schools should never be a place of fear.
“It is unacceptable that attacks on schools and students has become a recurring scenario in Northern Nigeria,” Mamo said.
“Schools are supposed to be safe learning zones for children to play, learn, realise and release their full potential. Instead, they are being turned into places of fear.”
The group stressed that abductions could cause severe psychological trauma to children and put them at risk of never returning to school.
Already, more than 13 million children in Nigeria are out of school. Most of them from Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states, where Boko Haram has been waging a campaign against western education since 2009, UNICEF said in a 2018 report, the most recent survey.
The group said attacks on schools violate children’s right to undisrupted and quality education in a safe environment.
It said parties to the conflicts in Nigeria must stop targeting schools and protect children at all times.
“We call upon all parties to refrain from targeting school children, and to ensure that the kidnapped girls in Zamfara state are immediately released and returned to their families,” the statement said.
The statement added that with Nigeria setting to host the 4th International Conference on Safe Schools in 2021, “it is important for Nigerian government to ensure that children have access to safe, quality and uninterrupted education at all levels.”