Kuni Tyessi in Abuja
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has hailed the release of 344 boys who were kidnapped from their school, Government Boys Secondary School, Kankara in Katsina state.
A statement by UNICEF Nigeria Representative, Peter Hawkins, said the agency looks forward to the Children’s safe return to their families.
He said that last Friday’s attack, directly targeting children in the middle of the night, in a place where they should feel safe, was an outrage.
He also said that such attack deprives children of the right to an education and make children fearful of going to the classroom, and parents afraid to send their children to school.
He said schools must be safe places to study and develop, and learning should not become a perilous endeavor.
The statement read: ” 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.
“Schools should be safe. Children should never be the target of attack and yet, far too often in Nigeria, they are precisely that victims of attacks on their schools. Attacks on educational facilities are a grave violation of children’s rights. This incident is a disturbing reminder of the heavy toll that violence takes on civilians in north-west Nigeria, including children.
“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),” he noted.
He added that no cause justifies attacks against children and schools and such cruel disregard for humanity must come to an end.