The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) has spoken against the abduction of over 400 schoolgirls in Zamfara State, Northwest Nigeria, on Friday, describing it as a gross violation of children’s rights.
The organisation also called on the government at all levels and all concerned to make schools safe in Nigeria.
Peter Hawkins, the UNICEF Representative in Nigeria, said it was a gross violation of children’s rights and a horrific experience for children to go through – one which could have long-lasting effects on their mental health and well-being.
Hawkins said UNICEF was working with partners to confirm the exact number of kidnapped students in the state.
“We utterly condemn the attack and call on those responsible to release the girls immediately and for the government to take steps to ensure their safe release and the safety of all other schoolchildren in Nigeria,” the UN chief said.
“We are angered and saddened and by yet another brutal attack on schoolchildren in Nigeria.”
He said children should feel safe at home and school at all times – “and parents should not need to worry for the safety of their children when they send them off to school in the morning”.
Hawkins said UNICEF acknowledged efforts made by Nigeria’s government to secure the release of kidnapped students in the country.
The Zamfara school attack occurred about a week after students, staff members and parents were abducted by armed bandits from a school in Niger State.
Meanwhile, students kidnapped in Niger State have not been released.