The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has disclosed plans to provide mental health, psychosocial support and counselling services to the freed pupils of Salihu Tanko Islamiya School, Tegina, Niger State.
The preschoolers, numbering over 90, were abducted three months ago and were released late Thursday after large ransoms had been paid to their abductors, according to sources. One child had died during the ordeal.
UNICEF said it was relieved that the abducted students have been freed from captivity, according to a statement by Samuel Kaalu, a Communication Specialist UNICEF Nigeria, Kano Field Office.
The statement quoted UNICEF Representative in Nigeria, Peter Hawkins saying, “Children who went in search of knowledge were abducted at their school which is supposed to be a safe place for them while exercising their fundamental right to an education.
“These students spent 88 days in the hands of their abductors before being freed. It is a tragedy and utterly unacceptable that one of these children died in captivity. Hayatu Hashimu was just 6 years old at the time of his death.”
“No family should lose a child just because it took the right decision to send that child to school. Schools should not be a target. Children should not be a target. Education is a fundamental right of every child and any attack on an educational institution is a violation of that right. We reiterate our call to authorities take all necessary measures to ensure schools are safe for all children,” the statement added.
UNICEF said an estimated 200 Nigerian students are believed to still be held after school abductions that have plagued the country since December 2020, and that more than 1,000 have been abducted in these attacks from December 2020 to date.
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