Safe schools campaign launched in Nigeria

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The UK and Nigerian governments must act decisively to protect schools from terrorist attacks and prevent further kidnappings of schoolchildren, signatories of an urgent petition for safer education say.

The petition, launched today by four international human rights groups, highlights the continued failures of lawmakers to help Nigerian students reach their potential. He urges the Nigerian government to fully implement the Safe Schools Declaration – not just a commitment in words but a commitment in action.

Since December 2020, Nigeria has witnessed 12 armed attacks on educational institutions in which more than 1,100 students were kidnapped for ransom and at least seven died. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) estimates that at least one million students could miss school this year due to the increase in school mass kidnappings and insecurity.

From October 25-27, Nigeria will host the Fourth International Conference on the Declaration in Abuja. The petition, which calls for concrete action to protect students and educational institutions, echoes the theme of the conference “Ensuring Safe Education for All: From Commitment to Practice”.

“Every Nigerian child deserves a safe education, without fear of violence or kidnapping,” said Ayo Adedoyin, CEO of PSJ-UK. “We call on the UK and Nigerian governments to do all they can to protect schools from terrorist attacks, prevent the kidnapping of schoolchildren, promote support for mobile school units for displaced students and provide assistance to vulnerable communities across the board. the country. “

Baroness Cox, founding president of the Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust (HART), said: “Boko Haram and other terrorist factions continue to target schools. They kill teachers and students. They also carry out mass kidnappings for ransom, demanding exorbitant sums from desperate parents. Both public and private institutions are targeted, including Islamic establishments and schools belonging to Christian denominations. In some cases, state and federal authorities have paid these ransoms; however, in Kaduna State, parents are forced to incur heavy debts due to the governor’s refusal for another ransom. “

Mervyn Thomas, founding president of CSW, added: “Nigerian authorities have responded to the wave of attacks on schools primarily by shutting them down. It is a brutal instrument that guarantees the safety of students to the detriment of their education. areas vulnerable to terrorist attacks – in particular the northern states and the Middle Belt – must be better protected. School should be a safe space where students can learn and realize their potential, even during conflict.

The public petition was launched on September 27 and can be viewed here: https://csw.e-activist.com/page/90511/petition/1?ea.tracking.id=oo

It is co-signed by four human rights groups: Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust (HART); International Organization for the Consolidation of Peace and Social Justice (PSJ-UK); IA-Foundation; and CSW.

Nigeria is one of 111 states to endorse the Safe Schools Declaration (SSD), an intergovernmental commitment to protect students, teachers, schools and universities from the worst effects of armed conflict.

Key words: Nigeria, CSW, Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Abductions, Mervyn Thomas, Baroness Cox, Ayo Adedoyin, Safe Schools Declaration

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