96 Chibok girls still in captivity, urgent actions needed to protect children – UNICEF

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The United Nations Children’s Fund has said urgent actions are needed to protect the children suffering from the impacts of the conflicts in north-east Nigeria.

In a statement on Friday, UNICEF said 96 out of 276 girls abducted from Government Girls Secondary School Chibok in Borno are still in captivity nine years after the abduction.

Speaking on the impact of the conflict on children, Cristian Munduate, UNICEF representative in Nigeria, said thousands of children continue to experience killings and kidnapping including forced recruitment into armed groups.

“The statistics are disturbing; the reality is devastating. It has been nine years since the horrendous abduction of the Chibok girls, yet the nightmare continues as children are still being kidnapped, forcibly recruited, killed, and injured– their futures torn away.

“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.

“Since 2014, there have been over 2,400 incidents of grave violations verified, affecting over 6,800 children in the north-east. The most common violations are recruitment or use of children by armed groups with 700 verified cases, followed by abductions of children, with 693 incidents, and killing and maiming, with 675 incidents.

“The impact of the conflict on education is alarming, with repercussions that will likely affect generations. The Teachers’ Registration Council of Nigeria (TCN) reports that, between 2009 and 2022, around 2,295 teachers were reportedly killed in attacks, over 19,000 teachers were displaced, more than 1,500 schools closed because of insecurity, and 910 schools were destroyed,” the statement reads.

Munduate commended the government for signing the UNICEF-supported handover protocol and investing N144.8 billion ($314.5 Million) toward the safe schools financing plan in 2022.

She said the organisation would continue to support the government in ensuring that children encountered in the course of armed conflict or released from armed groups are immediately reunited and engaged in reintegration programmes.

“UNICEF Nigeria calls on all parties to the conflict to respect international humanitarian law and human rights law and protect the rights and well-being of children.

“UNICEF Nigeria stands committed to working with the government and partners to ensure that every child in Nigeria can enjoy their rights and live in a peaceful and prosperous society,” she added.

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