Kidnap Victims Need Aid Beyond Rescue, Experts Say

In Nigeria’s restive northern region, kidnappings have become all too common, with schoolchildren among the primary targets.Federal and state governments say they focus on ensuring abductees’ safe release and return, but a chorus of health experts and others say support for those abductees shouldn’t end there.Victims need specialized physical and psychological rehabilitation to reintegrate into their communities and to overcome stigma, independent experts working with the Yetunde Odugbesan-Omede, a political scientist who has studied corruption, discourages paying ransom to kidnappers.The possibility of payment has created “a conducive environment for this [kidnapping] to fester,” Yetunde A. Odugbesan-Omede, professor of global affairs and politics at Farmingdale State College in New York, told VOA.Odugbesan-Omede, a native Nigerian who also does research on corruption, said some young people have resorted to kidnapping for money because they can’t find legitimate work.“Some of these abductors, unfortunately, go into these trades out of greed,” she said. “Many of them go out of just simple need of survival.”Nigeria’s jobless rate reached 33.3% in the fourth quarter of last year, Bloomberg News reported in March, citing National Bureau of Statistics figures. The oil-rich country’s economy — Africa’s largest — reeled as global oil prices plunged last year amid the coronavirus pandemic.Both state and federal governments allegedly have paid ransoms to secure hostages’ release.Buhari warned against ransom payments in a tweet February 26, saying that “state governments must review their policy of rewarding bandits with money and vehicles.”State Governments must review their policy of rewarding bandits with money and vehicles. Such a policy has the potential to backfire with disastrous consequences. States and Local Governments must also play their part by being proactive in improving security in & around schools.— Muhammadu Buhari (@MBuhari) February 26, 2021 That same day, armed men kidnapped the 279 female students from a boarding school in Zamfara state’s Jangebe village. The schoolgirls were freed by their captors several days later, and authorities denied paying a ransom.In addition to discouraging payments, Odugbesan-Omede urged increasing security around schools and providing 24-hour surveillance to deter kidnappings.This report originated in VOA’s English to Africa Service.

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