The United Nations International Children Educational Fund (UNICEF) has expressed concerns over the fate of about 150 students abducted from the Salihu Tanko Islamiya School in Tegina, Rafi Local Government Area of Niger State and called for their immediate and unconditional release.
The Deputy Country Representative of UNICEF Nigeria, Rushnan Murtaza, made the appeal in a statement titled, ‘UNICEF demands immediate release of 150 abducted students of Salihu Tanko Islamiyah School,’ made available to journalists on Monday.
The statement read, “We are appalled that two weeks after 150 students were abducted from their school, they continue to be held by their abductors.
“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.
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“It is horrifying that schools and schoolchildren continue to be targets of attack – and in this particular incident, even children as young as three 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.”
UNICEF also stressed that attacks on students and schools are not only reprehensible but a gross violation of the right of children to education.
It added, “We call 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. There are very few – if any – things more important for any society than ensuring the safe education of its children.”