World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search

 


Ensuring ‘safe space’ for returning Nigerian schoolgirls

Restoring dignity, ensuring ‘safe space’ for returning Nigerian schoolgirls critical – UN official

20 August 2014

A United Nations official for Nigeria today said that restoring the dignity and integrity of returning schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram militants in Chibok is instrumental in reintegrating the girls back into a “safe space” in society.

“The UN family has not forgotten the girls,” said Rati Ndhlovu, the representative of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) in Nigeria at a Headquarters press conference.

Some 200 girls were abducted by Boko Haram militants as they attended school on 14 April. Despite efforts by the Nigerian Government and international outcry, most of the girls remain missing, while some who have managed to flee their perpetrators have been raped by lone men they meet on their way home.

Calling it a “double tragedy,” Ms. Ndhlovu stressed that the issue of sexual violence is very serious because the girls are threatened both by insurgents and by other men who will take advantage of a vulnerable situation.

According to media reports, the Boko Haram insurgency continues to expand in size, kidnapping villagers and forcing them to join them in fighting. Ms. Ndhlovu said that most of the men and boys in Chibok have been forced to join the insurgency. Most of the health clinics have shut down while health workers have fled the violence. A displacement crisis persists as those who are fleeing the violence do not always want to go into the camps and other places people congregate because they fear insurgent attacks.

In the meantime, UNFPA, along with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), is preparing for any and all returning girls by setting up clinics and providing health screening for any girls coming back.

UNFPA has distributed much-needed essentials including “dignity kits” that include sanitarian napkins. “The girls are running from home and they have no menstruation pads and have nothing to use. They need water. The need the basic things that keep a woman dignified,” said Ms. Ndhlovu.

They are mainstreaming family planning into the humanitarian response by educating the girls about healthy timing of pregnancies. The girls are asked to question becoming pregnant during times of insecurity, Ms. Ndhlovu said, adding that “it may not the best time to be pregnant when you can hardly sleep in your house, when you are running all the time.”

With most health clinics closed and a shortage of health workers, the UN and its partners are leading and supporting coordination efforts to ensure synergies around interventions. In that regard, the UN is working with local NGOs and engaging the Red Cross on logistical matters.

Meanwhile, traditional religious leaders are being trained on how they are going to work with their communities to address certain challenges. Programmes are aimed at changing attitudes so that the returning girls are not stigmatized and shunned. Meanwhile the girls have participated in psychosocial programmes.

“Initially, the girls didn’t want to hear about school or go back to school because they were at school when this happened to them, but then they attended a vigorous psycho-social clinic programme, and by the end of, they all wanted to go back to school. Now they are ready to go back to school,” she said.

Another session was held for men and boys of the communities to involve them in creating a safe space for the girls to return to. Men and boys discussed ways to ensure that girls are not abused and that when they come back they are accepted. A separate group of men is championing for the rights of the girl-child in terms of education and health.

“These boys will grow up with a different understating on how to deal with girls and a greater understanding and appreciation for their rights,” Ms. Ndhlovu said.

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Ban Condemns Killing Of Former Lesotho Military Commander

United Nations Secretary-General today condemned the killing of Lt. Gen. Maaparankoe Mahao, former Commander of the Lesotho Defence Force, on 25 June, near Maseru. More>>

Ban Welcomes US Supreme Court Ruling On Same-Sex Marriage

Ban welcomes US Supreme Court ruling guaranteeing right to same-sex marriage Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) pride march. Photo: OHCHR/Joseph Smida More>>

UN Agency Welcomes EU Measures On Refugee Arrivals

Afghan refugees in front of the abandoned hotel Captain Elias on Kos Island, Greece, where hundreds of refugees and migrants are waiting for their registration. Photo: UNHCR/J. Akkash More>>

Increase In Voluntary Blood Donors Can Save Millions Of Lives

Increase in voluntary blood donors can save millions of lives, UN health agency says on World Day More>>

Kenya: Funding Shortage Means Food Cut To 500,000 Refugees

Funding shortage forces UN agency to temporarily cut food aid to 500,000 refugees in Kenya More>>

UN Launches Education Appeal In Fight Against Child Labour

12 June 2015 – The United Nations has announced it is marking the 2015 edition of the World Day Against Child Labour with a call for the international community to invest in quality education as a key step in the fight against child employment ... More>>

Pope Francis & UN Agency On Sustainability Of Agriculture

Pope Francis (centre) with delegates to the 39th FAO Conference during a special audience at the Vatican. Photo: FAO More>>

South Sudan: Call For De-Escalation Of In-Country Conflict

Women and children have suffered devastating attacks in South Sudan’s Unity State. Photo: UNICEF/South Sudan/Sebastian Rich More>>

Burundi: Emergency Support To Refugees Fleeing Burundi Crisis

Burundians fleeing pre-election violence rest on the shores of Lake Tanganyika in the Democratic Republic of Congo after a gruelling 22-hour boat journey. More than 100,000 Burundians have fled over the past month, arriving in Tanzania, Rwanda and ... More>>

Afghanistan: Commitment To Advancing Women's Rights

While the outgoing senior United Nations rights official in Afghanistan said she expected the human rights advances made “will be sustained, will not be rolled back, and will not be sacrificed,” she lamented the high level of violence against ... More>>

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
World
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news