13. Deputy Darragh O’Brien asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will report on the recent kidnappings of a number of school girls by Boko Haram; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 11079/18 asked on 08 Mar 2018)

Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Ciarán Cannon): The brutal activities of Boko Haram have resulted in thousands of deaths and the displacement of millions more. They also involve the clear and persistent abuse of human rights, especially of women and girls. These acts undermine, as is the perpetrator’s intention, the peace, stability, and prosperity of Nigeria and its neighbouring countries.

I reiterate the Government’s deep concern regarding Boko Haram’s practice of kidnapping women and girls, including the 200 girls known as the ‘Chibok girls’, kidnapped in Borno State in 2014. Around 50 of these girls are believed to remain in Boko Haram custody.

The risk of abduction in the north-east of Nigeria remains high, as the reports that over 100 girls were kidnapped last month from a Girls Science and Technical School in Dapchi, Yobe State. I unreservedly condemn this act.

The safe release of the kidnapped girls and their early return to their communities, and to education, must be a priority.

Ireland, with our EU partners, continues to support the Nigerian Government in its efforts against Boko Haram, and reiterates the need for a regional approach to ensuring that those in captivity are released, and to prevent future occurrences. The EU has pledged up to €50 million in support Nigeria and neighbouring countries.

The Embassy of Ireland in Abuja closely monitors the situation on the ground, and works with national and international partners in Nigeria in the coordination of support.