By: Natasha Archary
Consecutive attacks on schools may lead to 1 million Nigerian children missing school due to mass kidnappings.
According to UNICEF, an estimated 1 million Nigerian children are at risk as the new school term approaches. A number of schools have been targeted in mass abductions for ransom by armed groups.
These kidnappings were first orchestrated by Boko Haram and the tactic has since been adopted by other criminal gangs.
As reported in The Inquirer, there have been 20 attacks so far and more than 1 400 children were abducted and 16 were reported dead. UNICEF remains concerned as more than 200 children are still missing.
Peter Hawkins, UNICEF representative in Nigeria explained “Learners are being cut off from their education, as families and communities remain fearful of sending children back to their classrooms due to the spate of school attacks and student abductions.”
Lack of security has meant many schools in Nigeria have had to close.
In the Nigerian capital, Abuja, the start of the school term has been pushed back to a later date after schools in nearby states were targeted by kidnappers.
Since December 2020, kidnappers have extorted over $4,9 million from ordinary Nigerian citizens.
The abductions are economically motivated and kidnappings have become a lucrative industry in Nigeria. Because there are no access to roads in remote parts and no government or police presence the gangs use motorbikes to travel to the forest where they keep the abducted children for ransom.
There are many gangs operating in Nigeria and official estimates say these include over 30 000 members.