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Freed Tegina Pupils: UNICEF says death of Hayatu unacceptable

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Schoolchildren kidnapped from an Islamic seminary three months ago walk from a van as they are reunited with their parents in Minna on August 27, 2021 after their gunmen captors freed them from forest hideouts. The May 30, 2021 Tegina seminary abduction in northwest Niger State was one of the longest-running mass kidnappings at a Nigerian school since December when criminal gangs began to target students and pupils. John OKUNYOMIH / AFP


The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has said the death of six-year-old Hayatu Hashim in the den of kidnappers was unacceptable. Hayatu was among the 91 Salihu Tanko Islamiya School pupils, in Niger State, abducted three months ago. Although the abductors recently released the children after 88 days, Hayatu could not make it through the excruciating period.

In a statement, UNICEF representative in Nigeria, Peter Hawkins, said the organisation condemned Hayatu’s death, while calling for necessary measures to make schools safe in the country.

The UNICEF boss insisted that no children should suffer for making a choice to go to school.

“Children who went in search of knowledge were abducted at their school, which is supposed to be a safe place for them, while exercising their fundamental right to an education,” he said.

While rejoicing with the families of freed children, UNICEF expressed deep condolence to the family and relatives of late Hayatu, who had paid the supreme price for the sins he was innocent.

Hawkins said the release of the Tegina students comes in the run-up to the International Day to Protect Education from Attack on September 9, while Nigeria will also host the Fourth International Conference on the Safe Schools Declaration on October 25-27, 2021.

The theme of the conference is: “Ensuring Safe Education for All: From Commitment to Practice”. The Safe Schools Declaration, a political commitment to protect education during armed conflict, has been endorsed by 108 states – including Nigeria.

The October conference will be the first in Africa, and will provide an opportunity to galvanise support for, and accelerate implementation of the declaration by bringing together governments, practitioners, and civil society to share good practice and strengthen cooperation to save lives and safeguard.  

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