By Tobias Lengnan Dapam
Save the Children International (SCI) Nigeria said its is horrified about reports of up to 450 schoolgirls who have been abducted from a school in Nigeria’s Zamfara state.
The aid organisation asked for their immediate release and for any perpetrators to be held to account.
SCI in a statement issued on Friday, by Amanuel Mamo, Director of Advocacy and Campaigns, said the event is only the latest in a series of abductions in the region.
“Over the past months, hundreds of children in Nigeria have gone through the trauma of being abducted by armed groups. This includes 27 students who were kidnapped earlier this month in Niger state, and some 300 schoolboys who were abducted in Katsina in the country’s northwest in December last year.”
Save the Children warned that being kidnapped, witnessing kidnappings, experiencing school attacks, and being forced to flee and take refuge from armed groups are extremely traumatizing events for young children and adolescents, including girls.
It said Save the Children is deeply concerned about the protection of children in the places that should be the safest for them. “Schools have been targeted by armed groups for some time.”
Mercy Gichuhi, Country Director for Save the Children International said:
“We are deeply concerned about the abduction of these girls from the Government Girls Secondary School by suspected armed groups this morning. Their safety and well-being remain our primary concern, and our hearts go out to them and their families.
“It is unacceptable that attacks on schools and students has become a recurring scenario in the Northern Nigeria. 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.”
“We condemn any attacks on schools, students and teachers. Children have the right to have access to undisrupted and quality education in a safe environment.”
“These attack and abductions can cause severe psychological trauma to children, and it puts them at risk of never returning to school, as they or their parents think it’s too dangerous.’
“The children and their parents must be given adequate psycho-social support for a swift return to normal life, and those who are still missing must be found as soon as possible. Every day spent outside of their community is one too many.”
“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.”
Nigeria is set to host the 4th International Conference on Safe Schools in 2021 and is one of the first African countries to endorse the Safe School Declaration (SSD). Save the Children urges the Nigerian Government to ensure that children have access to safe, quality and uninterrupted education at all levels.