On the 25th of February 2018, the Federal Government of Nigeria confirmed the abduction of 110, 12 to 19-year-old girls who were taken from their school (Government Science and Technical College), Dapchi Local Government, Yobe State, in Nigeria on the night of 19th February 2018.

We are extremely saddened by this news. Attacks against the liberty of girls and women and the targeting of schools are prohibited under national and international law and cannot be justified under any circumstances.

Schools are and must remain places of safety and security, where children can learn and grow in peace. Girls and young women must be allowed to go to school without fear of violence and unjust treatment so that they can play their rightful role as equal citizens of the world. Women and girls have the right to live free from intimidation, persecution and all other forms of discrimination. Therefore, there must be measures put in place to stop the violation of the rights to education and dignity, not just of school girls in the North East but women and girls across Nigeria as a whole in line with the commitment to international humanitarian law. Implementation of the Call to Action for Protection and Gender-Based Violence is a critical foundation for the stability of society as a whole and solutions in affected areas.

We urge those who are responsible for their abduction to release them unharmed and return them safely to their families, where they rightfully belong. We also implore the general public to come forward with any information they may have regarding the situation.

We request that our media colleagues respect the dignity of girls by not sharing personal information such as identities and photographs, to avoid stigmatization and seamless re-integration back into society.

We stand with the parents and families of the abducted girls, the Dapchi community, Nigeria, and all others outraged by this atrocity.