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Nigeria: children traumatized by kidnapping need urgent rehabilitation, say UN experts

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UN experts today urged Nigeria to prioritize specialized rehabilitation measures for the hundreds of abducted children deeply traumatized after their release and to strengthen protective measures for those at risk.

“The social inclusion of these children requires the establishment of long-term measures aimed at restoring their physical and psychological well-being,” said the experts. Sensitizing families and communities to the importance of reintegration is imperative so that they are able to build renewed social relationships with families and communities and overcome stigma.

Experts also criticized the lack of an effective investigation into the kidnapping of 344 students from a boy’s boarding school in Kankara, Katsina state, in December 2020 and released a few days later.

“We are concerned about the complete lack of transparency and effective action almost three months later,” the experts said. “There has still not been an impartial and independent investigation into the kidnappings and specialized rehabilitation of the children after the incident.

“Due to such incidents, many children have not returned to class and some schools have already closed in border areas for fear of re-emergence. It may mean the end of the education of these children. ”
Experts have also expressed concern over the repercussions on the 279 schoolgirls released on March 2, 2021 after being kidnapped last week in Zamfara state, northwest Nigeria.

Kidnappings are not isolated cases – on February 17, 2021, at least 27 students, three staff and 12 family members from a college in the Niger state region were also kidnapped and released for 10 days later.

“We are alarmed by reports that an unknown number of women and girls have been abducted in recent years and subjected to domestic servitude, forced labor, sexual slavery through forced marriages, forced pregnancies and unwanted, ”the experts said.
“Serious concerns are expressed about the physical and psychological integrity of these people, who are at increased risk of exploitation, trafficking, sexual and gender-based violence and other forms of violence,” they said. declared.

They said the Nigerian government has international legal obligations to protect the right to life, liberty and security of a person, as well as the obligation to adopt effective measures and policies to prevent the operation. “We urge the Government to adopt effective preventive measures to prevent such acts from happening again and in particular to strengthen measures to protect children at risk and ensure access to appropriate support services, including sexual health. and reproductive and services for women and girls. “

Experts also urged the Nigerian government “to conduct an impartial and independent investigation without further delay.” We further recall the provision of effective remedies and assistance ”.

“The government should promote the expansion of community programs to support the care, rehabilitation and reintegration of girls and women. These programs should include psychosocial support and counseling, including for families ”, as recommended in the report of the special rapporteurs on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography and on contemporary forms of slavery, including its causes and consequences, during their joint visit to Nigeria in 2016.

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