Conflict-related violence: Over 1,680 children abducted, 180 killed in 10 years

By Samuel Luka, Bauchi

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has disclosed that over 1,680 children have been abducted and 180 others killed while at school or elsewhere in a conflict-related violence within the last ten years in Nigeria.

Ms. Cristian Munduate, UNICEF Representative in Nigeria made this known in a press release in remembrance of 10 years since the Chibok School-girls mass abduction by the Boko Haram insurgents.

“In the last 10 years, conflict-related violence has led to more than 1,680 children abducted while at school and elsewhere; 180 children killed due to attacks on schools”, she said.

According to her, an estimated 60 school staff were kidnapped and 14 killed while more than 70 attacks were carried out on schools within the period under review.

Ms. Munduate who raised concerns that the threat of abduction of students is severely affecting children’s learning, stated that as of 2021, over one million children were afraid to return to school.

She added that, according to “Policy Weekly by Nextier”, in 2020, around 11,500 schools were closed due to attacks.

The UNICEF Nigeria called on the government, partners, and the international community to take decisive action by ensuring that all schools across all states have the resources and tools to fully implement the Minimum Standards for Safe Schools, focusing on the most vulnerable regions.

A call to address critical gaps in safe school infrastructure, preparedness for natural disasters, conflicts, and comprehensive approaches to violence against children was also made.

The UNICEF also call on the Nigerian government and partners to Strengthen law enforcement and security measures to protect educational institutions and communities from attacks and abductions.

It further urges prioritization of education and child protection in national policies and budget allocations to create a safer, more inclusive environment for all Nigerian children.

According to UNICEF, the concerned authorities should ensure the continuity of education and learning when schools are shut through multiple learning pathways such as radio and TV programmes and through digital platforms like the Nigeria Learning Passport.

“UNICEF is working with the government to ensure that every child can access safe learning environments.The agency has supported the inauguration of state safe school steering committees and the drafting of state costed implementation plans for safe schools in 13 states”, Ms. Munduate said.

She said school grants, safety kits, training and awareness raising have been provided to accelerate the implementation of the Minimum Standards for Safe Schools.

“As we remember the Chibok girls and all children whose right to education has been compromised, let this somber anniversary serve as a catalyst for change. However, we must acknowledge the recent abductions, which underscore the persistent vulnerability of our schools”, she pointed out.

She stressed that in order to ensure that schools are safe havens, strong political will and proper implementation of safe school standards are essential.

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