By Sumaila Ogbaje
Abuja – Some Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have called on the Federal Government to develop national policy on protection of schools and children in armed conflict situations.
Mrs Abiola Sanusi, Education Adviser, Replington Education Initiative, made the call at a National CSO Consultation for Children Affected by Conflict, organised by Save the Children Nigeria, an NGO, on Monday in Abuja.
Sanusi said that the role of the CSOs was to ensure that students were safe during armed conflicts by ensuring that schools were protected.
According to her, the national policy would be supported by Save the children, Victims Support Funds and other humanitarian organisations as well as national human rights commission.
Shw said that proposal had been presented to the Nigerian Army to give some ethical considerations to schools just like hospitals during conflict situations to ensure that all parties involved in conflict adhere to humanitarian laws.
“We also want to raise awareness for students, teachers on how to protect themselves during conflict and as well as safety measures to be taken by schools.
“As you know, Nigeria unfortunately ranks as a country where we had education in terms of schools being destroyed or damaged with personnel being killed and abducted.
“Also, where you had children being abducted for choosing their right to education.
“Nigeria has tried to actually minimise this attack with dedication in emergency and the way in which the country has tried to achieve that is to adopt the safe school initiative.
“That is to ensure the continuity of education during armed conflict,” she said.
Lovely Sie, Child Protection in Emergency Adviser, Save the Children Nigeria, said that apart from advocating for fencing of schools in conflict areas, the organisation was also concerned with protection of female students against sexual abuse.
Sie said that the organisation ensure that children are emotionally stable in schools as the advocacy was not limited to only girl child but both boys and caregivers as well as the entire community.
According to her, while we are advocating the prevention of attack of schools by actors involved in armed conflict, we also give support services when such attacks happen.
“We know that government is doing a lot in this area, but human capacity is also an issue hence save the children supports government in capacity building of its personnel for child protection during conflict,” she said.
Mr Henry Obe, Director, Women, Children and Vulnerable Group, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), said that the commission paid serious attention to issues that concern children in the conflict areas.
Obe added that NHRC also ensured that children where not held in detention facilities on criminal grounds, adding that it had been supporting efforts to deradicalise those involved in terrorism.
According to him, the effort of the commission during conflict is the release of data base of missing people with children inclusive.