Nigerian children now scared about going to school

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By Our Special Correspondent

 What seemed like a horror film a decade ago when militants kidnapped 276 schoolgirls in Nigeria’s Chibok community has become a recurring decimal in the country. A decade since the Chibok abduction, more than 1,400 Nigerian students have been kidnapped. The most recent kidnapping of 287 students in Kaduna State in North Western Nigeria was only the latest such attack. Here is a timeline of some prominent school kidnappings in Nigeria since 2014:

April 14, 2014 — Members of the Islamic militant group Boko Haram abduct 276 female students in a night time attack at a government secondary school in the Borno State town of Chibok, prompting international outrage. More than 90 of the students are still missing, Amnesty International says. February 19, 2018 — A Boko Haram faction abducted 110 schoolgirls from a girls’ science college in the Yobe State town of Dapchi in north eastern Nigeria. Nearly all were later released, but five of the girls were killed.

December 11, 2020 — Gunmen on motorcycles attacked a government science secondary school in the Katsina State town of Kankara and abducted more than 300 boys. The state government announced their release six days later, following negotiations. The mastermind of the attack, Auwwalu Daudawa, accepted a government amnesty deal but later returned to the bush where he was killed by a rival gang.

February 17, 2021 — Gunmen wearing military fatigues attacked a science college in the Niger State town of Kagara at night and abducted 27 students, three staff members and others. Following what the state government described as negotiations, the abductees were released more than a week later.

February 26, 2021 — Gunmen abducted more than 300 schoolgirls in a night time raid on a government secondary boarding school in the Zamfara State town of Jangebe. In early March of that year, all abductees were released after apparent payment of ransom.

March 11, 2021 — Gunmen abducted 39 students — 23 females and 16 males — from the Federal College of Forestry Mechanization in the Kaduna State town of Afaka. The students were released in batches between April and May.

April 20, 2021 — Armed men attacked the private Greenfield University in Kaduna State and abducted at least 20 students. Most were released, but five were killed apparently because ransom negotiations were taking too long.

July 5, 2021 — Gunmen kidnapped more than 100 students from the Bethel Baptist High School in the Chikun area of Kaduna State. Bandits released the students over the course of several months.

March 7, 2024 — Gunmen riding motorcycles kidnapped 287 students at the government secondary school in the Kaduna State town of Kuriga. Security forces searched forests in north western Nigeria for the latest victims. The United Nations Children’s Fund revealed that children in Nigeria suffered more than 20,000 gross violations.  It added that more than 12,000 children were killed or maimed globally in 2018 – almost 800 of them in Nigeria’s North-East.

UNICEF, in a report, highlighted children in the North-Eastern part of Nigeria as those that experienced gross violations with many of them killed, maimed abducted or sexually violated.

Since the start of the decade, the United Nations has verified more than 170,000 grave violations against children in conflict – the equivalent of more than 45 violations every day for the last 10 years.

In Nigeria’s North-East, the figure is almost 20,000 in the last seven years. It added that more than 12,000 children were killed or maimed globally in 2018 – almost 800 of them in Nigeria’s North-East. “Ten years of conflict in Nigeria’s North-East – closely coinciding with the decade about to end – has seen a massive level of violations against Nigeria’s children in the region.

These include killings, maiming, abductions, rape, severe psychological trauma, and extreme disruption of their education – leaving them vulnerable possibly for the rest of their lives,” said Pernille Ironside, UNICEF Nigeria’s Acting Representative.

Pernille Ironside

 

Children should never be a target in any armed conflict – and everything must be done to protect them when they find themselves in areas of conflict.

Sadly, this has too often not been the case during the conflict in North-East Nigeria with children paying the heaviest price for the ongoing crisis, Ironside said.

Also speaking on the disturbing situation, UNICEF’s Executive Director, Henrietta Fore, said, “Conflicts around the world are lasting longer, causing more bloodshed and claiming more young lives. “Attacks on children continue unabated as warring parties flout one of the most basic rules of war: the protection of children.

“For every act of violence against children that creates headlines and cries of outrage, there are many more that go unreported.”

UNICEF calls on all warring parties including in Nigeria to abide by their obligations under international law and to immediately end violations against children and the targeting of civilian infrastructure.

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