… Lauds release of abducted Kankara schoolboys

United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, has said attacks on educational facilities are a grave violation of children’s rights, adding that the incident is a disturbing reminder of the heavy toll that violence takes on civilians in north-west Nigeria, including children.

UNICEF Representatives, Peter Hawkins said this in a press statement issued to Journalists in Abuja, yesterday.

Hawkins expressed joy over the release of the abducted Government Boys Science Secondary School, Kankara, Katsina students, saying, “I am relieved to hear that about 344 children are reported to have been released last night and we look forward to their safe returns to their families. If any are still being held, we call on the attackers to release all children immediately. Any other children still being held captive in Nigeria should also be released.

“For one week, parents were awake at night, crying and awaiting the return of their sons. My thoughts and solidarity are with these children, their families, and the Kankara community – who have endured an unimaginable ordeal this past week.

“Last Friday’s attack, directly targeting children in the middle of the night, in a place where they should feel safe, was an outrage. Schools should be safe. Children should never be the target of the attack – and yet, far too often in Nigeria, they are precisely that – victims of attacks on their schools,” the statement quoted Hawkins.

The UNICEF Representative maintained that attacks on educational facilities deprive children of the right to an education

“Such attacks deprive children of the right to an education. They make children fearful of going to the classroom, and parents afraid to send their children to school. Schools must be safe places to study and develop, and learning cannot become a perilous endeavor.

“Interventions must be put in place to ensure that schools are safe and that all Nigerian children can learn without fear. These interventions should take into account the important role that communities can play in ensuring the safety of schools, including through support for school-based management committees, SBMCs.

“No cause justifies attacks against children and schools. Such cruel disregard for humanity must come to an end,” he said.