UNICEF confirms attacks, abduction of 1440 pupils in Nigeria

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), yesterday, said 25 schools had been attacked and 1,440 pupils abducted in Nigeria this year.

This was contained in a report released on Tuesday November 23, titled, ‘Children in West and Central Africa among those Who Suffer Highest Rates of Grave Violations in Armed Conflict’.

The organization said over the past five years, the West and Central Africa regions have consistently had some of the highest numbers of UN-verified “grave violations” against children in armed conflict.

It said since 2016, the regions have recorded more than 21,000 children verified by the United Nations (UN) as recruited and used by armed forces and non-state armed groups, and more than 2,200 child victims of sexual violence.

“More than 3,500 children were abducted and more than 1,500 incidents of attacks on schools and hospitals were recorded,” the report reads.

“In Nigeria, there have been 25 attacks on schools so far this year, with 1,440 students abducted. Nigerian children continue to suffer the impact of crisis. A protracted conflict has been raging in northeast Nigeria for 12 years now. Thousands of children in the region have been killed, maimed, abducted, displaced, and experienced multiple violations of their human rights.”

According to the report, Phuong Nguyen, UNICEF chief field officer in Maiduguri, described the situation as “unacceptable”.

“Nigerian children – whether they are the direct targets of violence or collateral victims of conflict – are caught up in the ongoing insecurity we are seeing across the country. This is unacceptable,” Nguyen said.

“This important report shows the extent of the grave violations of children’s rights in Nigeria and across the West and Central Africa region – violations that must be ended by all parties to conflict.

“Children must have an opportunity to grow, learn, work and contribute to the healthy future of this country. That can only happen if they are protected from violence and the worst impacts of conflict.”