Boko Haram terror forces 1 million children out of school

Around one million children have been forced to stop attending school in northeastern Nigeria and neighboring states due to the incessant attacks by Boko Haram terrorists, revealed a UNICEF report on Tuesday.

Boko Haram, which pledged allegiance to Islamic State (ISIS) in March and is also known as Islamic State’s West Africa Province (ISWAP), was listed as the world’s deadliest terror organization last month, having murdered 6,644 victims in 2014. It has been leading an Islamist insurgency since 2009 in Nigeria.

The new report reveals that Boko Haram has led to the closure of over 2,000 schools in Nigeria, Chad, Niger and Cameroon, with hundreds of others having been attacked or burned by the group.

“The conflict has been a huge blow for education in the region, and violence has kept many children out of the classroom for more than a year, putting them at risk of dropping out of school altogether,” said UNICEF’s West and Central Africa regional director Manuel Fontaine.

Having one million children out of school increases the risk that they may be “abused, abducted and recruited by armed groups,” said Fontaine.

Hafsat Maina Muhammed, director of the Choice for Peace Gender and Development NGO, told Al Jazeera: “my children were at home for about two years – they didn’t go to school because we were afraid that when they’d go to school there’d be attacks and bombs. There were times that my kids would be missing (school) for two days because there was a bomb somewhere.”

According to professor Kyari Mohammed of Modibbo Adama University of Technology in Yola, Nigeria is only second to Pakistan in the number of children out of school, with a total of 10.5 million not in classes.

The Boko Haram violence has already led many teachers to avoid the classroom. In Nigeria, around 600 teachers have been killed since 2009.