The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund, UNICEF, Representative in Nigeria, Mr. Mohamed Fall, on Thursday revealed that over 3, 500 children of ages ranging between 13 and 17 are being used in the ongoing conflict in northeast.
According to him, the children were recruited by non state armed groups between 2013 and 2017.
Fall, who made the revelation in a statement issued by the Communication Analyst, UNICEF Field Office Maiduguri, Kusali Kubwalo, called for greater protection of children’s rights against violence and other forms of abuses in the country.
He disclosed that over 400 children were killed and maimed in 2018.
According to Fall who spoke in remembrance of the Chibok girls abduction five years ago, the call for greater protection would serve as reminder to widespread abductions and grave violation of children’s rights in the northeast region.
“More than 3, 500 children aged between 13 and 17 were recruited by non state armed groups between 2013 and 2017; and used in the ongoing conflict in northeast.
“In 2018; some 432 children were killed and maimed; 180 others abducted while 43 girls sexually abused in the war-torn region.
“Over 100 of the abducted Chibok school girls remain missing.
“The anniversary of the abduction marked on April 14; is a grim reminder of the widespread abductions of children and grave violations of children’s rights continue to take place in the northeast.
“Children should feel safe at home, in schools and on their playgrounds at all times,” he said.
According to UNICEF, non state armed groups had recruited and used children as combatants, non-combatants, raped and forced girls to marry since 2012.
It added that armed groups also committed grave violations against children, lamenting that some of the girls become pregnant in captivity and gave birth without any medical care or attention.
The UNICEF representative who lamented the harrowing experiences that children go through in the hands of their abductors, called on parties to the conflict to fulfill their obligations under international laws, to end all forms of violations against children and stop targeting community infrastructure such as schools.
“This is the only way we can begin to make lasting improvements in the lives of children in this devastated part of Nigeria.
“UNICEF continues to offer its support to the Government of Nigeria in its strong efforts to protect the country’s children. UNICEF works with the Borno State Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development and other partners to support children who have been rescued or escaped from captivity.”
The UN agency disclosed that it had provided community-based reintegration services to over 9, 800 persons formerly associated with armed groups, as well as vulnerable children in communities in the past two years.