By Angela Atabo
Save the Children International (SCI), an NGO on Friday said it was horrified about the report of schoolgirls abducted by gunmen from a school in Zamfara and called for their immediate release.
Mr Amanuel Mamo, the Director of Advocacy and Campaigns, SCI, Nigeria, who said this in a statement in Abuja, urged the authorities to bring the perpetrators to book to serve as a deterrent to others.
“Sadly, this is only the latest in a series of abductions in the region. Over the past months, hundreds of children in Nigeria have gone through the trauma of being abducted by armed groups.
“This includes 27 students who were kidnapped earlier this month in Niger and some 300 schoolboys who were abducted in Katsina in the country’s northwest in December 2020.
“Save the Children warns that being kidnapped, witnessing kidnappings, experiencing school attacks, and being forced to flee and take refuge from armed groups are extremely traumatising events for young children and adolescents, including girls,” he said.
According to Mamo, Save the Children is deeply concerned about the protection of kids in the places that should be the safest for them.
He expressed regret that schools had been targeted by armed groups for some time.
Speaking, Ms Mercy Gichuhi, Country Director SCI, said that the organisation was deeply concerned about the abduction of these girls from the Government Girls Secondary School by suspected armed groups.
“Their safety and well-being remain our primary concern, and our hearts go out to them and their families.
“It is unacceptable that attacks on schools and students have become a recurring scenario in Northern Nigeria,” he said
Gichuhi said that schools were supposed to be safe learning zones for children to play, learn, realise and release their full potential.
She, however, said that schools were being turned into places of fear instead.
She said that SCI condemned any attacks on schools, students and teachers, adding children had the right to access undisrupted and quality education in a safe environment.
Gichuhi said that these attacks and abductions could cause severe psychological trauma to children, and it puts them at risk of never returning to school, as they or their parents thought it was too dangerous.
She said the children and their parents should be given adequate psycho-social support for a swift return to normal life, and those who were still missing should be found as soon as possible.
This, according to her, is every day spent outside of their community is one too many.
“SCI called upon all parties to refrain from targeting school children and to ensure that the kidnapped girls in Zamfara state were immediately released and returned to their families.
“Nigeria is set to host the 4th International Conference on Safe Schools in 2021 and was one of the first African countries to endorse the Safe School Declaration (SSD).
“Save the Children urged the Nigerian Government to ensure that children had access to safe, quality and uninterrupted education at all levels,” she said.