The United Nations International Children’s Fund, UNICEF, has called for the immediate and unconditional release of the 150 students abducted by gunmen two weeks ago from Salihu Tanko Islamiya School, Regina, Niger state.
A UNICEF statement Monday, signed by the officer- in- charge, Representative UNICEF Nigeria, Rushnan Murtaza, said the students, some of whom are not more than three- year- old have been in captivity for two weeks, and they would have suffered separation from their parents.
“As Nigeria just marked two weeks since the abduction of 150 students from the Salihu Tanko Islamiya School in Tegina, Rafi local government area of Niger state, North-central Nigeria, UNICEF expresses deep concern about the fate of the children – some of whom are as young as three – and called for their immediate and unconditional release.
“We are appalled that two weeks after 150 students were abducted from their school, they continued 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 –year- old. We can only begin to imagine how frightened they are, and the impact this will have on their mental health and well-being,” Rushnan said.
UNICEF also condemned attacks on students and schools, describing them as reprehensible and a gross violation of the right of children to education, which no society can afford to violate.
“Schools must be safe places to study and develop, and learning should not be a risky endeavour. There are very few things more important for any society than ensuring the safe education of its children,” he said