14 April, 2015 - Bring Back Our Girls: Plan marks one year since girls abducted in Nigeria
Plan International Australia CEO Ian Wishart is available for interviews, grabs, etc. Please call Adam Cathro on 0488 202 945 to arrange.

Child rights organisation Plan International Australia is renewing calls to end intimidation and violence against girls whose only wish is to realise their rights to an education, one year on from the horrific abduction of more than 270 young girls from their school in Nigeria.

A year ago today, the girls were abducted from their hostel at the Government Secondary School in the town of Chibok in Nigeria. While some girls have managed to escape, more than 200 girls – aged between 12 and 17 when they were taken, are still missing.

“Plan expresses its deepest solidarity with the families of the abducted girls at this very difficult time and we call again for the girls’ immediate release,” says Plan International Australia CEO Ian Wishart.

“We also call for an end to discrimination, intimidation and violence against all girls whose only wish is realise their right to an education,” Wishart says.

“The targeting of schools and school girls is a grave violation of international humanitarian law. Attacks on schools deny all children the basic human right to learn in a safe environment and put them at risk of kidnapping, and in the case of girls, early and forced marriage and sex slavery,” he says.

It is estimated that between 2005 and 2012, rebel forces and groups used schools for military purposes in at least 24 countries in conflict. Schools have been converted into detention facilities, weapon depots or barracks and have also increasingly been the target of violent attacks or the focus of recruitment efforts by armed groups.

“Schools must be safe sanctuaries where all children can learn and grow in peace,” Wishart says.

“We urge all parties in all settings, including conflicts and warfare, to uphold children’s rights and spare and protect them from all forms of harm and violence.

“We call on governments to strengthen and implement appropriate national and local frameworks based on international humanitarian and human rights standards and law, and to build a culture of safety, resilience and non-violence throughout the education sector to prevent risk of harm or injury including kidnapping.”

“Children must never be targeted. Only by shielding them from harm and enabling them to realise their full potential can we ensure a better future for all,” Wishart adds.

Editors’ notes:
Plan is one of the oldest and largest children's development organisations in the world, founded 75 years ago, working in 51 developing countries across Africa, Asia and the Americas and supported by 21 donor countries. Plan is independent, with no religious, political or governmental affiliations.

Media contact: Adam Cathro, Plan International Australia, Media Relations Manager, 0488 202 945