About 900 children including 106 girls have been released from the ranks of the Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF), a government-backed vigilante group formed to help oust the militant group Boko Haram, as part of efforts to end the recruitment and use of children by armed groups in Maiduguri, north-eastern Nigeria, says a press statement, by the United Nations Children`s Fund (UNICEF).
“Any commitment for children that is matched with action is a step in the right direction for the protection of children’s rights and must be recognized and encouraged,” said Mohamed Fall, United Nations Children`s Fund’s representative in Nigeria cum co-chair of United Nations Country Task Force on Monitoring and Reporting on Grave Child Rights Violations (CTFMR).
Fall noted that, “Children of north-east Nigeria have borne the brunt of this [Boko Haram] conflict. They have been used by armed groups in combatant and non-combatant roles and witnessed death, killing and violence. Their participation in the conflict has had serious implications for their physical and emotional well-being.”
“The children and young people released today will benefit from reintegration programmes to help them return to civilian life, seize new opportunities for their own development, and contribute to bringing lasting peace in Nigeria, as productive citizens of their country. Without this support, many of the children released from armed groups struggle to fit into civilian life, as most are not educated and have no vocational skills,” says a press statement by the UNICEF.
Reports have shown that more than 3,500 children were recruited and used by non-state armed groups in the fight against Boko Haram, between 2013 and 2017, while many others have been abducted, maimed, raped and killed. “We cannot give up the fight for the children, as long as children are still affected by the fighting. We will continue until there is no child left in the ranks of all armed groups in Nigeria,” said Fall.
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