Boko Haram Must Release Girls Abducted Three Weeks Ago

The Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary General for Children and Armed Conflict, May 5, 2014

Statement attributable to the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Ms. Leila Zerrougui

New York – I remain deeply concerned about the fate of over 230 girls violently abducted from their school by Boko Haram in Borno State, Nigeria on the night of April 14. Today’s new reports of abductions of girls in the country’s northeast are extremely worrying.

I am outraged by these deliberate attacks and I stand with the victims and their families in this tragedy.

I strongly condemn the claims made in a video by the alleged leader of Boko Haram that he will sell the abducted schoolgirls.

I have reached out to the Government of Nigeria, together with the UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Ms. Zainab Hawa Bangura, UN Women Executive Director, Ms. Phumzile Mlambo-Nqcuka and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms. Navi Pillay. We asked the Government to spare no efforts to ensure the safe return of these young girls to their families, where they should be supported to resume their lives in a safe environment.

In the coming days, I will continue my dialogue with the Government of Nigeria. I also welcome the engagement of world leaders, and call on the international community to support the Nigerian Government in its search for the abducted girls.

Every child, regardless of their gender, ethnic origin, social status, language, age, nationality or religion has the right to education and to live free from any form of violence.

Since July 2009, the extremist group Boko Haram, whose name stands for “Western education is a sin”, has been carrying out targeted attacks against schools, police, religious leaders, politicians, public and international institutions, indiscriminately killing civilians, including dozens of children.

The insurgent group continues to demonstrate that they have no regard for human rights. This senseless violence must be stopped immediately.

Attacks on schools, students and teachers are prohibited under international humanitarian law and perpetrators must know that they will be held accountable.