|Lawan. Photo: TWITTER/DRAHMADLWAN/TOPEBROWN|
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has said that it was angry and saddened over the incessant abduction of school children in Nigeria.
Representative of UNICEF in Nigeria, Mr. Peter Hawkins, was reacting to the attack in Zamfara State, where about 300 school girls were abducted in an overnight attack at the Government Girls’ Secondary School, Jangebe in Talata Mafara local council of the state.
Save the Children International (SCI) also strongly condemned the abduction, saying attacks were unacceptable and schools should not be a place of fear.
The President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, also expressed outrage that the incident happened while efforts were still being made to rescue those abducted just over a week ago at another secondary school in Kagara, Niger State.
In a statement signed by Hawkins, UNICEF said: “We are angered and saddened by yet another brutal attack on schoolchildren in Nigeria. This is a gross violation of children’s rights and a horrific experience for children to go through – one which could have long-lasting effects on their mental health and wellbeing.
“We utterly condemn the attack and call on those responsible to release the girls immediately and for the government to take steps to ensure their safe release and the safety of all other schoolchildren in Nigeria.
“Children should feel safe at home and at school at all times – and parents should not need to worry for the safety of their children when they send them off to school in the morning.”
UNICEF acknowledged efforts being made by the Federal Government to secure the release of kidnapped school children, calling on the government and all concerned to make schools safe in Nigeria.
The SCI in a statement signed by its Director of Advocacy and Campaign, Mr. Amanuel Mamo, called for the immediate release of the girls and the perpetrators brought to justice.
The group expressed worries that schools were being targeted by armed groups in recent times, noting that over the past months, hundreds of children in Nigeria have gone through the trauma of being abducted by armed groups.
Country Director of the group, Mercy Gichuhi, said: “We are deeply concerned about the abduction of these girls from the Government Girls’ Secondary School by suspected armed groups this morning. Their safety and wellbeing remain our primary concern, and our hearts go out to them and their families. ”
The Senate President, on his part, said the recurrent attacks on schools and other acts of banditry call for intense soul searching on how the nation arrived at this sorry pass and how to cage the monster of violent crimes in Nigeria.
Lawan expressed his sympathy for the abducted schoolgirls and urged the authorities at all level to work together to ensure their immediate rescue.
He also reiterated his call on the state authorities to accord priority to securing schools and other locations now seen as soft targets by savage criminals.
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