Plan International is extremely concerned about the safety and wellbeing of the 110 schoolgirls who were reportedly kidnapped in the town of Dapchi in Nigeria’s north-eastern Yobe state on 19 February.
The organisation is calling for the immediate release of the girls, who are believed to have been taken from the Government Girls Science Secondary School by Boko Haram insurgents.
We condemn this act of extreme violence against innocent girls and strongly urge the Nigerian government to redouble its efforts to secure the safe release of these children as soon as possible. All children should be guaranteed an environment of safety in which they can claim their right to an education in peace.
VIOLATION OF GIRLS' HUMAN RIGHTS
“This kidnapping represents a fundamental violation of these girls’ human rights, in particular their right to freedom and equality,” said Hussaini Abdu, Country Director at Plan International in Nigeria.
“We know that girls kidnapped by Boko Haram are subject to unspeakable abuse including forced marriage, sexual violence and slavery so we ask the government to treat this emergency with the urgency it deserves. We know that girls who return to their communities after escaping capture, often with children, face stigma and exclusion, so it is likely this incident will affect these girls for the rest of their lives.”
girls who return to their communities after escaping capture, often with children, face stigma and exclusion.
It is almost four years since more than 200 girls were abducted by Boko Haram from their school in the town of Chibok, also in north-east Nigeria, in 2014.
“This is a classic case of history repeating itself with no lessons learnt,” says Dr Abdu. “Our utmost sympathies are with the families of these girls at this impossibly difficult time.”
ACCESS TO EDUCATION BADLY AFFECTED
Access to education, particularly for girls, has been badly affected in north-east Nigeria since 2009, with many families withdrawing their children, especially girls, from school due to the high risk of abduction.
Without education, children are at risk of being seen as an ideal recruitment pool for extremist organisations or criminal gangs, their chances of employment are severely limited and the chance of them ending up in child marriages or with teenage pregnancies is significantly higher.
Since November 2016, Plan International has been working in northeast Nigeria to support children who have dropped out of school to recommence their schooling by providing school materials and training teachers. The organisation wants the government to provide schools, particularly those in northeast Nigeria, with adequate security to ensure no child ever has to fear for their safety.
Through its advocacy work, Plan International has also been calling on the Nigerian government to provide accelerated learning programmes for children who have been denied education due to the conflict.
Hussaini Abdu and other Plan International experts in Nigeria are available for interviews.