Conflict in NE Nigeria still affects children 9 years after Chibok girls ‘nightmare’: UNICEF
Nearly a decade after Boko Haram militants abducted 276 schoolgirls from their dormitory in Chibok, northeast Nigeria, 96 remain in captivity, the UN children’s agency UNICEF said on Friday.
Meanwhile, thousands more girls and boys have been subjected to grave violations amid ongoing conflict in the region, UNICEF added, underscoring the need to protect children in Nigeria.
"The wind blows cold,
heavy with our fears.
Carrying along our dreams" - Fatima, 15.
Fatima's #poemforpeace serves as a reminder today, nine years after 276 schoolgirls were abducted in Chibok, Nigeria, with 96 girls remaining in captivity. https://t.co/UeNOFP5xRJUNICEF_Nigeria
As recently as 7 April, some 80 children were abducted by militants in the Tsafe Local Government Area in Zamfara state, the UN agency said, citing local media.
Children still suffering
The so-called “Chibok girls” were kidnapped on the night of 14 April 2014, sparking worldwide condemnation and concern.
Cristian Munduate, UNICEF Representative in Nigeria, said the “nightmare” continues today as many children are still being kidnapped, forcibly recruited, killed and injured.
“We cannot turn a blind eye to the suffering of Nigeria’s children. We must do everything in our power to ensure they grow up in safety, with access to education and the opportunity to fulfill their potential,” he said.
Education under fire
Since 2014, there have been over 2,400 verified incidents of grave violations affecting 6,800 children in northeast Nigeria, UNICEF reported.
The most common concern recruitment by armed groups, followed by abductions, and killing and maiming.
The conflict has had an alarming impact on education, and UNICEF warned that the repercussions will likely affect generations.
Between 2009 and 2022, roughly 2,295 teachers were reportedly killed in attacks, and more than 19,000 were displaced, according to the Teachers’ Registration Council of Nigeria (TCN).
Additionally, more than 1,500 schools closed, and 910 were destroyed, due to insecurity.
Appeal to the parties
UNICEF has welcomed the Government’s signing of an agency-supported protocol on the handover of children encountered in the course of armed conflict, as well as its commitment to invest more than $314 million towards a financing plan on school safety.
The handover protocol, signed last September, aims to prevent or reduce the detention of children encountered by military and security forces.
Under the agreement, children allegedly associated with armed groups will be transferred to the Ministry of Women’s Affairs and Social Development within a period of seven days.
UNICEF called on all parties to the conflict to respect international humanitarian law and human rights law, and to protect the rights and well-being of children.