Friday, May 14, 2021

‘Dapchi abduction big blow to girl-child education’


Jaafar Jaafar
Jaafar Jaafar is a graduate of Mass Communication from Bayero University, Kano. He was a reporter at Daily Trust, an assistant editor at Premium Times and now the editor-in-chief of Daily Nigerian.
tiamin rice

The kidnapping of dozens more schoolgirls in Yobe state by Boko Haram militants could undermine efforts to keep girls in schools and threaten progress on women’s education in the region, experts said.

At least 100 schoolgirls from the village of Dapchi were snatched by a faction of the militant group last week, according to the government, in a mass kidnapping that echoed the abduction of some 220 girls from a Chibok school in April 2014.

Authorities said on Wednesday the Dapchi girls had been rescued, but later backtracked and said they were still missing.

President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday called the abduction a national disaster, and said he was sending more troops and reconnaissance aircraft to look for the girls.

“This is a national disaster. We are sorry that this could have happened and share your pain,” Mr Buhari said in a statement directed to the parents of the missing girls.

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Earlier in the week he sent more security forces and a ministerial team to the area.
The mass kidnapping may drive parents to keep their children out of school due to fears for their safety, analysts say.

“If I was a parent in Nigeria, I’d be so scared to send my child to school,” Sola Tayo, a fellow at the London-based think tank Chatham House, told Gulf-Times.

“This shows the state cannot guarantee that children in school are safe,” she added.

The abduction could hinder girls’ education in Nigeria’s conservative northeast, where the majority of girls are married off before they turn 18, according to charity Girls Not Brides.

“Already, trying to convince parents to keep their daughters in school is a challenge,” said Aisha Mohamed-Oyebode, co-convener of the Bring Back Our Girls campaign that drew international attention to the Chibok abductions.

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“Now, this added fear of more girls being abducted – it’s going to make it even more difficult.”

Mrs Mohamed-Oyebode said any setback for education for girls would only further the aims of Boko Haram, whose name in the local Hausa language means “Western education is forbidden.”

Activists also fear the fresh kidnappings could undermine efforts to negotiate the release of the Chibok schoolgirls, and possibly even pave the way for more abductions by Boko Haram.

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“The Dapchi incident is a major setback for hopes and expectations for a conclusive release of the remaining Chibok girls and all others still held by Boko Haram,” said Nnamdi Obasi, International Crisis Group senior analyst for Nigeria.

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Nigeria is still haunted by the kidnapping of the Chibok girls in 2014.

About 106 have been found or freed, but at least 100 are still believed to be in captivity in the northeast.

The United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) said the tragedy of the Chibok girls’ abduction had not been forgotten and described the latest kidnapping as a “new horror”.

It said more than 2,295 teachers had been killed and almost 1,400 schools destroyed since the insurgency began in 2009.

Boko Haram has killed more than 20,000 people and forced more than 2mn others to flee their homes during its nine-year insurgency.

The militant group has gained global infamy for its use of children, including girls, as “human bombs” in suicide attacks.

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