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Amnesty International, UNICEF demand rescue of 42 Kagara students, staff

Global human rights group, Amnesty International and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) have condemned Wednesday’s abduction of 42 persons by bandits at the Government Science College, Kagara, Niger State, saying attacks on schools undermine right to education.

Amnesty International director in Nigeria, Mr Osai Ojigho, demanded that “the Nigerian authorities must act immediately to prevent attacks on schools, to protect children’s lives and their right to education.”

Amnesty urged the Federal Government to bring to justice, those responsible for the abduction and other human rights abuses, adding that the latest development has clearly shown that authorities are not doing enough to protect lives.

“We condemn this appalling attack, which is the latest in a string of attacks on schools in northern Nigeria. Attacks on schools and abductions of children are war crimes. Those found to be responsible for the abduction must be brought to justice for these and other human rights abuses.

“That this is coming only about three months after a similar incident at a school in Kankara, Katsina state, shows that authorities are not doing enough to protect lives. The children abducted are in serious risk of being harmed.

“Nigerian authorities must take all measures to return them to safety, along with all children currently under the custody of armed groups. Education is under attack in northern Nigeria.

“Schools should be places of safety, and no child should have to choose between their education and their life. Other children have had to abandon their education after being displaced by frequent violent attacks on their communities, and many teachers have been forced to flee to other states.

“The Nigerian authorities must act immediately to prevent attacks on schools, to protect children’s lives and their right to education.

“The protection of children’s lives is paramount, and the Nigerian government has a duty to ensure that the country’s educational sector is not further threatened by armed groups on rampage across northern Nigeria.

“The attack on Government Science College Kagara is a serious violation of international humanitarian law and it undermines the right to education for thousands of children in northern Nigeria.

“The abduction of students by armed groups can severely reduce the availability of and access to education for many children in northern Nigeria where violent attacks are escalating.”

The United Nations Children’s Fund described the abduction of students of Government Science College in Kagara, Niger State, as abuse and violation of Child’s Rights. The international agency went further to demand the immediate and unconditional release of the students.

While it acknowledged the efforts being made by the Nigerian government to rescue the children, UNICEF stated that it was concerned about the violent attack and safety of the school children, noting children should feel safe in any environment.

In a statement on Wednesday, UNICEF Communication Specialist, Sam Kaalu said: “UNICEF condemns in the strongest possible terms any attack on a school and calls for the immediate and unconditional release of any children who may be missing, and their safe return to their families.

“UNICEF is deeply concerned about these reported acts of violence. Attacks on schools are a violation of children’s rights. Children should feel safe at home and at school at all times – and parents should not need to worry about the safety of their children when they send them off to school in the morning.

“We acknowledge the efforts being taken by the Government of Nigeria for the safe return of any missing children.”

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