Statement attributable to Manuel Fontaine, UNICEF Regional Director for West and Central Africa
NEW YORK (April 16, 2014) - UNICEF condemns in the strongest possible terms the reported abduction of some 100 school girls between the ages of 12 and 17 from their school hostel in Chibok Borno State on Monday night, and calls for their immediate and unconditional release.
UNICEF is deeply concerned about the persistent trend of attacks on schools in Nigeria. Most recently, unidentified gunmen killed 53 children between the ages of 13 and 17 at the Federal Government College, Buni Yadi, Yobe State, in February.
Such brutal acts of violence are unacceptable. Attacks on schools deny children their right to learn in a safe environment and can rob them of their future. Wherever it takes place, abduction of children is a crime and illegal under international law.
Monday night’s attack on the Chibok school took place hours after over 70 people were killed in a bomb attack at a bus station in the Nyanyan neighborhood, close to the capital, Abuja.
UNICEF expresses its deepest solidarity to all the communities affected by these horrific acts, and stands with the families of the abducted children in these difficult times. The agency calls for greater efforts to protect all children throughout Nigeria.
The Nigerian government should urgently take steps to make sure that the children are returned to their families unharmed and that they can continue their education in a safe environment.
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The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) works in 190 countries and territories to save and improve children’s lives, providing health care and immunizations, clean water and sanitation, nutrition, education, emergency relief and more. The U.S. Fund for UNICEF supports UNICEF’s work through fundraising, advocacy, and education in the United States. Together, we are working toward the day when zero children die from preventable causes and every child has a safe and healthy childhood. For more information, visit www.unicefusa.org.
For additional information, please contact:
Susannah Masur, U.S. Fund for UNICEF, 212.880.9146, firstname.lastname@example.org