The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said on Tuesday that it will provide psychosocial support to the released schoolgirls kidnapped in Nigeria’s northwestern state of Zamfara and their families.

In a statement, UNICEF Nigeria Representative Peter Hawkins said that the fund would work with the ministry of education to ensure the safe return of all children to school. “While we rejoice at the release of the schoolgirls and look forward to their safe return to their families, we reiterate that attacks on students and schools are not only reprehensible but a violation of the right of children to education,” he said. He called on the government to take measures to protect schools so that children would not be scared of going to school, and parents not be afraid of sending their children to school.

Hundreds of Nigerian girls abducted last week from a boarding school were released on Tuesday, said Governor Bello Matawalle of Zamfara.The governor, who received the girls in Gusau, the state capital, said the 279 girls returned safely without paying any ransoms.Officials said “bandits” were behind the abduction, referring to the groups of armed men who operate in Zamfara state and kidnap for money or to push for the release of their members from jail.

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