By: Mayen Etim
KADUNA, North-West, Nigeria – The United Nations Children’s Fund, (UNICEF), has called for immediate release of the 150 abducted pupils of Salihu Tanko Islamiya School in Tegina, Rafi Local Government Area of Niger State, north-central Nigeria.
Even as the organization expressed deep concern about the fate of the children, some of whom are as young as 3 years and called for their immediate and unconditional release.
This is contained in a statement made available to newsmen in Kaduna on Monday.
UNICEF stressed that attacks on students and schools are not only reprehensible but a gross violation of the right of children to an education. It is a right that any society can ill-afford to violate.
The Officer in Charge, Representative UNICEF Nigeria, Rushnan Murtaza, said, “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.
“It is horrifying that schools and schoolchildren continue to be targets of 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.”
The organization called 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,” Murtaza said; adding that, “There are very few if any things more important for any society than ensuring the safe education of its children.”