Chibok girls: Crisis far from over nine years after
The abduction of 276 female students from the Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok, Borno State, in 2014, brought the plight of children in the North-East Nigeria to the forefront of international attention. The Chibok girls became a symbol of the conflict’s devastating impact on children, in particular, girls, and their continued captivity nine years later is a reminder that the crisis is far from over.
On the ninth anniversary of the abduction, the world is once again reminded of the devastating impact of the ongoing armed conflict in the North-East Nigeria on children.
96 Chibok girls remain in captivity, as well as a significant number of children abducted by non-state armed groups, notably, Boko Haram and Islamic State in West Africa Province. As a global community, we cannot turn a blind eye to the suffering of these children. We demand their unconditional release.
The conflict in the North-East Nigeria has been ongoing since 2009, resulting in one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises. The crisis has worsened over the years and the impact of the conflict on children’s lives cannot be overstated.
The crisis has left many children exposed to violence and atrocities. Thousands of children have been abducted, with some being forced into marriage, while others have been used as suicide bombers. The displacement of over 2.5 million people, including more than 1 million children, who have been forced to flee their homes in search of safety, is a grave concern.
The increasing attacks on schools in Northeast Nigeria by various armed groups are a troubling trend that has denied the right of 1.15 million children to education. According to the Teachers’ Registration Council of Nigeria, attacks on schools forced over 1,500 schools to close, destroyed 910 institutions, and displaced over 19,000 teachers between 2009 and 2022. The attacks claimed the lives of more than 2,295 teachers.
We urge an end to attacks on schools, which violate children’s right to education. The loss of access to education has serious consequences on the future of children in Northeast Nigeria. Many children have been out of school for years, leading to a lost generation that lacks basic literacy and numeracy skills.
The conflict has also had an economic impact, with the loss of livelihoods resulting in poverty and inequality. The closure of businesses and loss of employment opportunities has left many families vulnerable and struggling to provide for their children’s basic needs, with limited access to healthcare, education, and adequate nutrition. The conflict has not only destroyed countless human lives but has also resulted in the loss of $100 billion each year, representing missed development opportunities.
We cannot allow another generation of children to be lost due to armed conflict and generational poverty. The situation in Northeast Nigeria requires urgent attention from the international community.
The immediate priority is to provide humanitarian assistance to those in need, particularly children and women. Aid organizations must be given unrestricted access to the region to provide essential services such as healthcare, education, and nutrition.
The crisis further requires a comprehensive approach that addresses the root causes of the conflict and promotes sustainable peace in the region. The Nigerian government has taken significant steps to improve access to education, healthcare, and other essential services in the region, but a lot more needs to be done. Efforts must be made to rebuild infrastructure, particularly schools and healthcare facilities, that have been destroyed by the conflict.
The abduction of female students from the Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok in 2014 brought the plight of children in Northeast Nigeria to the forefront of international attention. The Chibok girls became a symbol of the conflict’s devastating impact on children, and their continued captivity nine years later is a reminder that the crisis is far from over.
The children of Northeast Nigeria deserve a brighter future, free from violence, poverty, and inequality, and it is our collective responsibility to work towards achieving this goal. Let us not forget the Chibok girls and the many other children who have been affected by this crisis and let us work together to ensure that they are released and can return to their families, and that all children in the North-East Nigeria can access the opportunities they need to reach their full potential.
- James Christoff, Canadian High Commissioner to Nigeria
- Matias Schmale, United Nations Resident coordinator in Nigeria
- Cristian Munduate, UNICEF Representative in Nigeria