Shina J. O
The United Nations Children Emergency Funds UNICEF says the recent abduction of 80 children in Tsafe Local Government Area of Zamfara State in Northwest Nigeria reinforces the urgent need for action to Protect children in Nigeria.
It called on all parties to the conflict to respect International Humanitarian Law, human rights law and protect the rights and well-being of children.
This is contained in a statement signed and released by UNICEF representative Nigeria, Cristian Munduate said, it stands committed to working with government partners to ensure that every child in Nigeria can enjoy their rights and live in a peaceful and prosperous Society.
UNICEF lamented that, Nine years after 276 schoolgirls were abducted in the middle of the night from their dormitory in Chibok, Nigeria, 96 girls remain in captivity, and thousands more children have been subjected to grave violations of their rights.
“The statistics are disturbing; the reality is devastating. It has been 9 years since the horrendous abduction of the Chibok girls, yet the nightmare continues as children are still being kidnapped, forcibly recruited, killed and injured– their futures torn away,” said Cristian Munduate, UNICEF Representative in Nigeria.
“We cannot turn a blind eye to the suffering of Nigeria’s children. We must do everything in our power to ensure they grow up in safety, with access to education and the opportunity to fulfill their potential.”
It noted that since 2014, there have been over 2,400 incidents of grave violations verified, affecting over 6,800 children in the North-east. The most common violations are recruitment or use of children by armed groups with 700 verified cases, followed by abductions of children, with 693 incidents, and killing and maiming, with 675 incidents.
The impact of the conflict on education is alarming, with repercussions that will likely affect generations. The Teachers’ Registration Council of Nigeria (TCN) reports that, between 2009 and 2022, around 2,295 teachers were reportedly killed in attacks, over 19,000 teachers were displaced, more than 1,500 schools closed because of insecurity, and 910 schools were destroyed.
UNIICEF welcomes the Government of Nigeria’s signing of the UNICEF-supported handover protocol and its commitment to invest N144.8 billion ($314.5 Million) towards the Safe Schools Financing Plan in 2022 and stands ready to support the Government in its implementation to ensure that all children encountered in the course of armed conflict in Nigeria or released from armed groups are quickly reunited with their families and benefit from reintegration programmes.