UN child rights envoy demands insurgent group release abducted Nigerian schoolgirls

Special Representative Leila Zerrougui. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

7 May 2014 – United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s top envoy on children and armed conflict expressed deep concern about the fate of the 230 girls violently abducted from their school in in mid-April by Boko Haram militants in Nigeria’s crisis-riven Borno State, and deplored the group’s reported abduction yesterday of several more girls.

"I am appalled by these attacks and I am in solidarity with the victims and their families in this tragedy. I strongly condemn the statement by video of the supposed leader of Boko Haram, which claimed that the abducted girls be sold, possibly for forced marriages, "said Leila Zerrougui, Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, in a press release.

Ms. Zerrougui said she and the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Zainab Hawa Bangura, the Executive Director of UN Women, Phumzile Mlambo- Nqcuka, and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, had contacted the Nigerian Government to urge it to redouble efforts to secure the release of these girls.

"In the coming days, I will continue the dialogue with the Government of Nigeria. I welcome the commitment of world leaders and I call on the international community to support the Government of Nigeria in its efforts to recover abducted girls, "said Ms. Zerrougui.

"Every child, regardless of gender, ethnic origin, social status, language, nationality or religion, has the right to education and to live without fear of violence," she declared.

Since July 2009, the extremist group Boko Haram, whose name stands for “Western education is a sin”, has been carrying out targeted attacks against schools, police, religious leaders, politicians, public and international institutions, indiscriminately killing civilians, including dozens of children, the press release said.

“The insurgent group continues to demonstrate that they have no regard for human rights. This senseless violence must be stopped immediately,” added Ms. Zerrougui, stressing that attacks on schools, students and teachers are prohibited under international humanitarian law and perpetrators must know that they will be held accountable.


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