The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has lauded the release of abducted Nigerian students in the past few weeks by their abductors, but lamented the fact that there are still more than 200 children still in captivity after school abductions that have plagued the nation since December 2020.
In a statement in Katsina on Sunday by UNICEF Representative in Nigeria, Peter Hawkins, the international body said education was a fundamental right of every child, and “any attack on educational institutions is a violation of that right.”
“An estimated 200 Nigerian students are believed to still be held after school abductions that have plagued the country since December 2020.
“More than 1,000 have been abducted in these attacks from December 2020 to date,” he said.
Hawkins who celebrated the release of the remaining pupils of the Salihu Tanko Islamiya School in Tegina, Niger State, who were abducted by suspected bandits in May, Hawkins said:
“UNICEF is relieved that 91 students of Salihu Tanko Islamiya School Tegina, in Niger State, abducted three months ago, have been freed from captivity.
“The organisation condemned the death of one child who died while held by his abductors. 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. Hayatu Hashimu was just six years old at the time of his death.
“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. We reiterate our call to authorities to take all necessary measures to ensure schools are safe for all children,” Hawkins said.
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