April 14 (UPI) — Boko Haram has abducted more than 1,000 children in Nigeria since 2013, the United Nations’ children’s rights arm said a day before the fourth anniversary of the Chibok schoolgirl abductions.
On April 14, 2014, the terrorist group kidnapped 276 girls from their secondary school in the town of Chibok. Boko Haram released 82 of the school girls last May in exchange for five of its top commanders.
On Friday the United Nations Children’s Fund, commonly known as UNICEF, called for the release of more than 100 of the “Chibok girls” yet to be returned to their families.
“The four-year anniversary of the Chibok abduction reminds us that children in northeastern Nigeria continue to come under attack at a shocking scale,” UNICEF Representative in Nigeria Mohamed Malick Fall said in a statement. “They are consistently targeted and exposed to brutal violence in their homes, schools and public places.”
Friday’s announcement of the tally of abductions over five years comes about two months after Boko Haram militants abducted 110 girls from Government Girls Science and Technical College in Dapchi, Yobe State.
Five girls died in the school attack in Dapchi, which UNICEF said was “the latest indication that there are few safe spaces left for children in the northeast.”
“These repeated attacks against children in schools are unconscionable,” Fall said. “Children have the right to education and protection, and the classroom must be a place where they are safe from harm.”
Boko Haram has freed all the girls abducted from the school in Dapchi, except one, Leah Sharibu, who remains captive because she reportedly refused to renounce her belief in Christianity.
At least 2,295 teachers have been killed and at least 1,400 schools have been destroyed in northeastern Nigeria over the last nine years, UNICEF said. Extensive damage or security threats have kept most of those schools from reopening.