As the 223 abducted Nigerian schoolgirls spend their 100th day in captivity on Wednesday, ActionAid calls on the Nigerian government to do everything in its power to rescue the girls, immediately safeguard the education of all children in Nigeria and to stop criticising the Bring Back Our Girls coalition.
The kidnapping and other attacks by Boko Haram have affected not only the families of the girls in Chibok but also in surrounding areas. The thought of going to school is terrifying thousands of girls and ActionAid says many parents living in the area are now reluctant to allow their daughters to go to school for fear of them being abducted or killed.
“Schools in Borno, Yobe and parts of Adamawa states in the north-east of the country remain closed for security reasons, despite a new “safe schools” initiative launched by the government in May.
ActionAid’s Country Director in Nigeria is Dr Hussaini Abdu. He said: “The Nigerian government must not only do more to find the girls and bring them home, they must invest in developing and securing schools against attack.”
Eight hundred classrooms and 200 schools in Borno and Yobe states have been destroyed by Boko Haram since 2013. Since February last year, more than 15,000 children have stopped attending class in Borno state alone.
The government’s response to these horrendous attacks on schools has been to allow them to stay closed, which ActionAid believes is playing into the hands of the extremists.
“While we appreciate the government’s new initiative on securing schools in the north-east, it is vitally important to keep schools open to stop Boko Haram achieving its objective of preventing children getting an education,” said Dr Abdu.
ActionAid is also calling on the government to stop criticism of the Bring Back Our Girls movement which it has accused of trying to undermine the government. ActionAid is part of the coalition which is holding protests every day in the capital Abuja to maintain awareness about the plight of the girls.
Dr Hakil, a Chibok Community leader in Abuja, told ActionAid that pupils in the Chibok area are not going to school. “Most of the communities have been attacked by Boko Haram including all of the primary schools and there is only one secondary school and it has been burnt down — so none of our children are going to school. Some of the community are saying they will never send their children to school again because there is no security.”
In addition the families of the kidnapped girls have told ActionAid that they are unable to go into their fields to harvest crops out of fear of attacks and worry they will have nothing to eat.
One community leader said: “The famine is looming over the Chibok area — no one can farm – their farm produce has been taken away and the rest has been set on fire. There will be no food for the community.”
By marking 100 days since the girls were abducted, ActionAid is standing in solidarity with the girls and their community. ActionAid is committed to protecting children’s right to education in Nigeria and drawing attention to the fact that all girls have the right to go to school without fear of violence.
Nigeria is home to over 10 million of the 57 million out of school children in the world — more than any other country.