From Timothy Olanrewaju, Maiduguri
UNITED Nations’ Children Fund (UNICEF) has described the death of one of the 91 children abducted at a Qu’ranic school in Niger State three months ago as utterly unacceptable.
Ninety of the 91 students of Salihu Tanko Islamiya School in Tegina, Niger State, abducted three months ago, were released on Friday. One of them, six-year-old Hayatu Hashimu, reportedly died in the abductors custody.
Unicef in Nigeria in a statement yesterday described the death of the boy as a tragedy.
“They spent 88 days in the hands of their abductors before being freed yesterday. It is a tragedy and utterly un- acceptable that one of these children died in captivity,” said Peter Hawkins, Unicef country representative.
Hawkins said children who went in search of knowledge should not be targets of at- tacks and abducts. He said they were supposed to be safe places for them.
He said Unicef rejoices with the families whose children were freed, but also expresses deepest condolences to little Hayatu’s family. He said the has just suffered the worst loss “on top of the tragedy they have gone through for the last 88 days.”
He said no family should lose a child just because the family took the right decision to send the child to school.
“Schools should not be a target. Children should not be targets. Education is a fundamental right of every child and any attack on an educational institution is a violation of that right,” he stressed.
He called on governments to take all necessary measures to ensure schools are safe for all children. He assured that UNICEF would work with partners to provide mental health, psychosocial support and counselling services to both the freed children and their parents.