UNICEF urges more protection for children, says 90 Chibok girls still in captivity 10 years after abduction

By Samuel Luka, Bauchi

As Nigeria marks 10 years of mass abduction of Chibok school-girls by Boko Haram terrorist group, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has urged the country’s authorities to strengthen protection for children who are the most vulnerable population in the society.

Ms. Cristian Munduate, UNICEF Representative in Nigeria who stated this in a press release on Monday, said 10 years since the mass abduction of the school girls in Chibok, Adamawa state, Northeast Nigeria, 90 girls are still in captivity.

Ms. Munduate who urged serious and concerted action to secure children’s education in Nigeria, said the Minimum Standards for Safe Schools (MSSS) Monitoring Report shows that just 37 per cent of schools across 10 states have early warning systems in place to identify threats, such as school attacks.

According to Munduate, it is of great concern that upon the previous abduction, Nigeria is recovering from another abduction of school-children in Kaduna state in March of this year.

Ms. Munduate noted that the kidnapping of the Chibok girls was a wake-up call to the severe risks facing children in their pursuit of education.

“Today, reflecting on this tragedy and other recent abductions, it is evident that our efforts to safeguard our children’s futures must be amplified”, the UNICEF said.

The press release added that, considering the alarming statistics, effort should be made to address not only the symptoms but also the root causes of the crisis.

Ms. Cristian who pointed out that Education is a fundamental right and a crucial pathway out of poverty, regretted that for too many Nigerian children, it remains an unattainable dream.

UNICEF Representative in Nigeria explained that the analysis looked at 6 result areas – strong school system, violence against children, natural hazards, conflict, everyday hazards, and safe school infrastructure.

Ms. Cristian said the analysis uncovered significant disparities in the implementation of safe school standards across Nigerian states.

While noting that Borno State had 70 per cent fulfilment of the standards, exemplifies a strong commitment to child safety amidst adversity, Ms. Cristian informed that Yobe State also demonstrates promising progress.

According to the UNICEF Representative in Nigeria, in contrast, Kaduna and Sokoto states lag significantly, with fulfilment rates at just 25 per cent and 26 per cent, respectively.

UNICEF said, in addition to the finding on early warning systems and conflict, the report shows that while schools perform relatively well in terms of training school-based management committees on safety and responding to children’s well-being concerns, only 14 per cent of the participating schools across the 10 assessed states have functioning, safe, accessible infrastructure and just 36 per cent have school staff trained on natural hazards.

The press release added that the analysis came on the heels of disturbing reports of violence affecting schools with brazen abductions of students on the rise.

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