Fears grow for at least 50 girls missing after Boko Haram attack Nigerian school
Chibok girls, Children in conflicts, Education in emergencies, Girls' education, Safe schools, Safe Schools Declaration
Two days after it was thought that all students had fled to safety in Yobe state, reports say dozens of girls are still unaccounted for.
At least 50 girls are reported to be missing two days after Boko Haram gunmen raided their school in Nigeria.
All 710 students and their teachers were thought have escaped to safety when fighters attacked the boarding school in Dapchi, Yobe state.
But fears grew today about the fate of dozens of girls whose whereabouts is unknown.
The picture has been confused throughout the day. It was reported this morning that more than 90 had not been accounted for at the Government Girls Science Secondary School.
Hours later, the BBC reported the local governor as saying at least 50 were still missing. It said people living near the school told how many other girls who fled have been found after hiding in surrounding villages.
“Our girls have been missing for two days and we don’t know their whereabouts,” Abubakar Shehu, whose niece is among those missing, told AFP news agency.
“Although we were told they had run to some villages, we have been to all these villages mentioned without any luck. We are beginning to harbour fears the worst might have happened.
“We have the fear that we are dealing with another Chibok scenario.”
Boko Haram gained worldwide notoriety in April 2014 when they abducted 276 girls from their school at Chibok in neighbouring Borno state. A total of 112 are still being held.
Staff said there were 710 students at the state-run boarding school in Dapchi, which educates girls aged 11 and over.
Reports said that when the Boko Haram fighters got to the school they found it empty – but looted it anyway.
Inuwa Mohammed, whose 16-year-old daughter Falmata is among the missing, said it was a confused picture and that parents had been frantically searching surrounding villages.
“Nobody is telling us anything officially,” he said. “We still don’t know how many of our daughters were recovered and how many are still missing.”
Police in the state – one of three in northeast Nigeria worst affected by the Boko Haram insurgency – said they have no reports of abductions following the attack.
Yobe’s education commissioner Mohammed Lamin said the school had been shut and a roll call of all the girls who have returned was being conducted.
Last week Haruna Yahaya became the first person to be convicted in relation to the Chiobok abductions in 2014. The 35-year-old was jailed for 15 years. Days later, he was given a second 15-year sentence – to be served consecutively.
The Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria has left at least 20,000 dead and made over 2.6 million more homeless since 2009.
The group has consistently attacked education. Almost 1400 schools have been destroyed, over 2295 teachers killed and three million children need emergency support on education.