The United Nations Children Fund says it is angered and saddened by the abduction of over 300 schoolgirls in an overnight attack on the Government Girls Secondary School in Jangebe, Talata in the Mafara Local Government Area of Zamfara State, North-West Nigeria.

“We are angered and saddened and by yet another brutal attack on schoolchildren in Nigeria,” said Peter Hawkins, UNICEF Representative in Nigeria.

“This is a gross violation of children’s rights and a horrific experience for children to go through – one which could have long-lasting effects on their mental health and well-being. We utterly condemn the attack and call on those responsible to release the girls immediately and for the government to take steps to ensure their safe release and the safety of all other schoolchildren in Nigeria.”

“Children should feel safe at home and at school at all times – and parents should not need to worry for the safety of their children when they send them off to school in the morning,” Hawkins added.

“UNICEF acknowledges efforts being made by the Government of Nigeria to secure the release of kidnapped schoolchildren in Nigeria and calls on the government and all concerned to make schools safe in Nigeria.”

The school attack on Zamfara comes about a week after a similar attack occurred in Niger State on a school for boys.

In December 11, 2020, 344 secondary schoolboys were also abducted from Kankara in Katsina, the home state of President Muhammadu Buhari, while he was there. They are released six days later.

Hundreds of schoolgirls were also kidnapped in Chibok in 2014 by Boko Haram, some of whom have not been released till date.

In February 2018, 110 schoolgirls were also abducted by Boko Haram from the Government Girls’ Science and Technical College, Dapchi, Yobe State. Five died in the process while others were later released, except Leah Sharibu, a Christian girl who refused to renounce her faith.

UNICEF added that it was working with partners to confirm the exact number of kidnapped students, currently estimated to be more than 300.