The United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) has said a total of 950 students have been abducted from their schools in Nigeria by armed bandits since December 2020.
The agency also described the latest abduction of students of Bethel Baptist School in Kaduna by bandits as one too many.
Giving a breakdown of the abductions in a statement seen by our correspondents on Wednesday, UNICEF Executive Director, Henrietta Fore said, “On July 5th, 150 students were reportedly abducted from a school in Nigeria’s Kaduna State, marking the latest incident in an alarming spate of attacks against children and abductions, including of students, in parts of West and Central Africa.
“We are deeply concerned that as in years past, non -state armed groups and parties to conflict in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Niger and Nigeria will ramp up these violent activities over the coming weeks ahead of the rainy season when their movements could be restricted by flooding.”
“Such incidents,” according to her, “appear to be increasing in frequency, raising fears for the safety and well-being of the region’s children.
“Already in 2020, according to the latest report of the United Nations Secretary-General on children and armed conflict, one in three child victims of grave violations has been in West and Central Africa.”
She further lamented that, “In Burkina Faso, attacks against civilians and other violations of international humanitarian law have spiked significantly in recent weeks. On June 5, at least 130 civilians were killed in an attack on a village in Yagha Province that lasted for hours.
“This was the single deadliest attack in the country since the outbreak of violence in 2015. So far this month, 178 civilians have been killed, including children. More than 1.2 million people, 61 per cent of whom are children, are now displaced because of violence; a 10-fold increase in just the last three years.”
Speaking on Nigeria’s crisis, she said, “Meanwhile in Nigeria, the UN estimates that at least 950 students have been abducted from their schools by armed men since December. Over the past six weeks alone, nearly 500 children were abducted in four separate incidents across the central and northwest parts of the country. Many of these children have not yet been returned. It is hard to fathom the pain and fear that their families and loved ones are suffering in their absence.”