Boko Haram insurgency in the North East of Nigeria has imposed profound physical, emotional and developmental impacts on children and remains a source of concern to the world.
According to the United Nations (UN), the situation becomes even scarier for children and youths who are easily among the most vulnerable in war situations.
Boko Haram has kidnapped thousands, often raping them, forcing them to become suicide bombers, help the militants in their conflict or marry fighters, according to the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
“I will like to call on all the parties in the conflict, mainly the Boko Haram to immediately stop recruiting and using children; the use of children by Boko Haram as a human bomb is particularly disturbing and vulnerable,” Mohamed Fall, UNICEF’s Country Representative, told Xinhua Saturday after the official signing of Action Plan Agreement against recruitment of children between the organization and Borno State Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF).
CJTF is a volunteer force formed in 2013, to assist security forces in the fight against the Boko Haram insurgency.
The group in collaboration with the military had engaged in various combat operations, providing security at Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps and liberated communities in the state.
CJTF was listed in the 2016 annexes of the UN Secretary General’s Annual General Report for Children and Armed conflict for recruitment and use of children.
The Action Plan Agreement was signed by the UNICEF, Borno State Government and CJTF, in Maiduguri, the Borno state capital and stronghold of Boko Haram fighters.
Fall said the increase in the use of children in the conflict in the North-East was a source of concern to the UN and it must stop.
“I will like to remind everyone that recruitment and use of children is a war crime and a crime against humanity,” he added.
According to the UNICEF official, 140 children and mostly girls and even babies are being used as human bombs in North-East Nigeria, within the last three years.
Fall noted with dismay that too many children were destroyed by the crisis in the North-East region, adding that the action plan agreement with the CJTF would build new hope and brighter future for children in the conflict areas.
“The action plan agreement is an important milestone for child protection and paves the way for a brighter future for children caught up in the conflict in the region,” Fall said.
CJTF had set up a five-man committee to enhance implementation and compliance with the action plan agreement, Jubril Gunda, the CJTF’s Legal Adviser, said.
Gunda told Xinhua that the group accorded priority to the protection of children in the conflict ravaged areas of the state.
He disclosed that the group in collaboration with the UNICEF, military and other security agencies would build the capacity of its members to expose them to best human right practices to ensure protection of children.
According to him, the group would also set up a children right protection desk, to promote respect of rights and rehabilitation of children affected by the conflict.
Boko Haram has killed more than 20,000 and displaced 2.3 million people in its attacks since 2009.
The Nigerian government has assured the international community that the destructive activities of the Boko Haram terrorist group have been greatly curtailed. Enditem