The United Nations’ children’s agency UNICEF says at least one million Nigerian children may miss school when the new term starts this year due to increased mass kidnappings and insecurity.
Armed groups have been abducting students for ransom in northern Nigeria. First carried out by Boko Haram, then by its offshoot Islamic State West Africa Province, kidnappings in Nigeria are now being used by criminal gangs.
UNICEF said there have been 20 school attacks in Nigeria so far this year, with more than 1,400 children abducted and 16 killed. It added that more than 200 children are still unaccounted for.
In Nigeria families and communities are afraid to send children back to school because of recent attacks on schools and student abductions, said Peter Hawkins, UNICEF Representative.
UNICEF estimates that 37 million Nigerian children are scheduled to begin schools this month. Over eight million students have waited more than a year for in-person learning after schools were closed due to COVID-19 lockdowns.
Nigerian schools have also been closed due to insecurity.
To stop gangs who travel by motorbike and camp in remote areas, several northwestern states have banned the sale of fuel in jerry cans and the transport of firewood in trucks.