Since 2013, more than 1,000 children have been abducted by Boko Haram in northeastern Nigeria, including 276 girls taken from their secondary school in the town of Chibok in 2014, UNICEF has said.
UNICEF stated that four years on from that tragic incident, more than 100 of the ‘Chibok girls’ have yet to be returned to their families and the UN children’s agency continues to call for their release.
“The four-year anniversary of the Chibok abduction reminds us that children in northeastern Nigeria continue to come under attack at a shocking scale,” said UNICEF Representative in Nigeria Mohamed Malick Fall. “They are consistently targeted and exposed to brutal violence in their homes, schools and public places.”
The recent attack on a school in Dapchi in which five girls lost their lives is just the latest indication that there are few safe spaces left for children in the northeast. Not even schools are spared from violence.
“These repeated attacks against children in schools are unconscionable,” said Fall. “Children have the right to education and protection, and the classroom must be a place where they are safe from harm.”
Since the conflict started in northeastern Nigeria nearly nine years ago, at least 2,295 teachers have been killed and more than 1,400 schools have been destroyed. Most of these schools have not reopened because of extensive damage or ongoing insecurity.
Nigerian authorities have made a commitment to make schools safer and more resilient to attack, and UNICEF stands with them to implement the Safe Schools Declaration, by which Nigeria commits to protecting schools and universities from violence and military use during armed conflict.
UNICEF is appealing for an end to attacks on schools and all grave violations of children’s rights.