UNICEF demanded on Monday that 150 Tsangaya students abducted from the Salisu Tanko Islamiya school in Tegina, Rafi local government area of Niger State in north-central Nigeria, be released immediately and unconditionally.
This comes two weeks after the kidnapping of the children.
The UN agency expressed concern about the fate of the youngsters, some of whom are as young as three years old, in a statement.
“We are appalled that two weeks after 150 students were abducted from their school, they continue to be held by their abductors,” said Rushnan Murtaza, Officer in Charge, Representative UNICEF Nigeria.
“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.”
“It is horrifying that schools and schoolchildren continue to be targets of the attack – and in this particular incident, even children as young as 3 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.”
Attacks against kids and schools, according to UNICEF, are not only abhorrent, but also a grave infringement of children’s right to an education. It is a fundamental right that no society can afford to ignore.
The group urged the Nigerian government to take all necessary steps to protect schools in the country and to follow through on promises to fund safe schools so that children would not be afraid to go to school and parents will not be hesitant to send their children to school.
“Schools must be safe places to study and develop, and learning should not be a risky endeavour,” said Rushnan Murtaza. “There are very few – if any – things more important for any society than ensuring the safe education of its children.”