The United Nations Education Funds (UNICEF) said on Saturday at least 1000 students have been abducted by bandits in Nigeria since December 2020.
In a statement signed by its Representative in Nigeria, Peter Hawkins, the agency added that about 200 others are still in captivity.
It described the children’s abduction in school gross violation of their fundamental rights.
UNICEF, however, expressed happiness at Friday’s release of 91 students of Salihu Tanko Islamiya School Tegina, Niger State.
The statement read: “Children who went in search of knowledge were abducted at their school – which is supposed to be a safe place for them – while exercising their fundamental right to an education.
“They spent 88 days in the hands of their abductors before being freed yesterday. It is a tragedy and utterly unacceptable that one of these children died in captivity.
“We rejoice with the families whose children have been freed – and express our deepest condolences to little Hayatu’s family, who have just suffered the worst loss on top of the tragedy they have gone through for the last 88 days.
“No family should lose a child just because it took the right decision to send that child to school. Schools should not be a target. Children should not be a target. Education is a fundamental right of every child and any attack on an educational institution is a violation of that right.
“We reiterate our call to authorities take all necessary measures to ensure schools are safe for all children.”
UNICEF said it would work with partners to provide mental health, psychosocial support and counselling services to both the freed learners and their parents.
“The release of the Tegina students comes in the run-up to the International Day to Protect Education from Attack slated for September 9.”
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