The united Nations Children’s Fund has confirmed the release of 894 children including 106 persons have been released from the ranks of the Civilian Joint Task Force CJTF in Borno State.
The CJTF is a local militia armed in 2013 to help security forces in the fight against Boko Haram. The move was aimed at ending and preventing the recruitment and use of children for the fight against Boko Haram insurgency in the North-East.
Speaking at an event marking the release of the children in Maiduguri UNICEF’s representative in Nigeria and the Co-chair of the United Nations Country Task Force on Monitoring and Reporting on Grave Child Rights Violations, Mohamed Fall, said, “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.”
He added, “Children in the North-East have borne the brunt of this conflict. They have been used by armed groups in combatant and non-combatant roles and witnessed death, killing and violence. This participation in the conflict has had serious implications for their physical and emotional wellbeing.”
He said since September 2017, when the CJTF signed an action plan to stop the recruitment and use of children for the fight against insurgency, 1,727 children and young people had been released.
Fall said the children released would 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.
He said, “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.” He lamented that in the ongoing armed conflict in the North-East, more than 3,500 children were recruited and used by non-state armed groups between 2013 and 2017. Others have been abducted, maimed, raped and killed.
Fall said, “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.” He promised that UNICEF would continue to work closely with state authorities and partners to support the implementation of reintegration programmes for all children released from armed groups, as well as others affected by the ongoing conflict.