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Nigeria threatened by college abductions, says UN official

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LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) — Mounting college abductions in Nigeria have disrupted the educations of greater than 1.3 million youngsters in Africa’s most populous nation, the place 10 million youngsters will not be attending college, the United Nations says.

“Youngsters are traumatized. Mother and father are scared. Academics and faculty directors are afraid. Assaults on colleges are regularly spreading to areas not identified to insurgencies. With training beneath assault, the collective way forward for Nigeria is beneath menace,” U.N. resident coordinator in Nigeria Edward Kallon mentioned.

The West Africa nation has seen not less than 10 abductions previously 12 months wherein 1,436 college students have been taken, in response to U.N. Youngsters’s Company Nigeria Consultant Peter Hawkins.

About 200 college students are nonetheless being held and 16 youngsters have died within the assaults, he added.

“From September 2020 to June/July 2021, as much as 1.3 million youngsters in whole have been affected in some unspecified time in the future throughout the educational yr or studying interrupted in some unspecified time in the future,” Hawkins informed The Related Press.

College kidnappings by gunmen — whom analysts establish as principally younger, former nomadic cattle herders — have taken place in 9 totally different states, and targets have included everybody from preschoolers to college college students.

The army is now finishing up particular operations in Zamfara state to root out the attackers, often called bandits, from their hideouts.

Colleges are set to open and start the educational yr this month, however many academic amenities have been shut by some governors within the northwest and central elements of Nigeria amid efforts to include the safety problem.

Final week, as news broke of the kidnapping of 73 college students in Zamfara, authorities closed down all major and secondary colleges throughout the state and three days later, native media reported that the telecommunications entry within the state has been blocked.

Among the freed schoolchildren have informed AP that they have been warned to not return to highschool or they’d face additional violence.

“They requested us not to return to highschool, that they are going to make sure that they shut down all the colleges in Kaduna state,” mentioned 20-year-old Victory Sani, who was one of many almost 40 college students who have been held by gunmen in a forest for seven weeks after they have been kidnapped in Kaduna State.

Nineteen-year-old Loveth Daniel, who was additionally kidnapped in that assault in Kaduna in March this yr, informed AP that she doesn’t plan to return to highschool once more in Nigeria. “If God opens the best way for me, severely, I don’t want to go to any college so far as it’s (in) Nigeria,” she mentioned. “I’m not going to any college in Nigeria once more.”

The well being of the freed college students can be a supply of concern. A few of those that have been seized from their colleges are as younger as 4, and fogeys have informed the AP that after promoting off most of what they need to pay for ransoms demanded by the gunmen, they now don’t have sufficient to pay their youngsters’s medical payments.

“We struggled in prayer to rescue them (and) now we have to battle exhausting to enhance their well being,” mentioned Saidu Tegina, whose two youngsters have been among the many 91 pupils kidnapped in Niger State.

Nigeria’s federal and state governments ought to “do extra” to guard colleges from assaults, mentioned U.N. coordinator Kallon. That is a difficult process for Nigerian safety forces who’ve a number of safety challenges in varied elements of the nation.

In Kankara in Katsina state the place greater than 300 schoolchildren have been kidnapped from a boarding college in December earlier than they have been later launched, the federal government closed down the power and transferred the remaining college students to a different college.

Musbau Murnai, whose 12-year-old son was amongst these kidnapped and later launched, informed AP that his son will stay at house till the safety state of affairs improves.

“You can not go wherever (locally) due to concern of assault,” he mentioned, describing how a instructor at a close-by college was lately kidnapped.

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