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Armed Groups Recruited 685 Children In 2023 – UNICEF



United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) said 685 children (63 percent girls) were recruited and used as “soldiers” by armed forces and armed groups based on the Country Task Force Monitoring and Reporting (CTFMR) verification in 2023.

UNICEF said the report is in contrast to the recruitment and use of 136 children verified in 2022, adding that the increase which could not be comprehended shows that involving children in conflict by armed forces and armed groups is not getting better.

The UNICEF chief of Borno Field Office, Ms Phuong Nguyen made the disclosure at the commemoration of the 2024 International Day Against the Use of Child Soldiers (Red Hand Day), organised by UNICEF in collaboration with the Borno State government yesterday in Maiduguri.

She said the commemoration is a huge day not just for girls and boys affected by conflict, but an opportunity for all the child protection actors to speak with one voice against the recruitment and use of children by the armed forces and armed groups.


“When recruited by non- state armed groups, children are mainly used for strategic and military purposes; planting bombs, digging trenches, pillaging villages, killing enemy forces, as wives to commanders, manning checkpoints and as porters. Children are separated from their families, lose the opportunity to go to school, and exposed to sexual violence and mental health issues due to traumatic experiences. This is unacceptable,” she added.

She said UNICEF, has supported the social and economic reintegration of more than 9,000 children released from armed groups in Nigeria, adding that the support structure includes family tracing,  safe return to their communities, psychosocial support, vocational training and informal apprenticeships. “However,  many more children are still trapped in armed groups as child soldiers,  and others face consistent discrimination,”  Nguyen said.

In her remarks, the Borno State commissioner for women affairs and social development, Hajiya Zuwaira Gambo, said the Red Hand Day observed on every 12 February as call – to – action event to bring an end to child soldiers, also known as ” International Day against the use of Child Soldiers” , symbolises stakeholders unwavering commitment to sustain the ending of the recruitment and use of child soldiers.

The commissioner said in collaboration with UNICEF and other key stakeholders, the Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development, advocated for the release of children in administrative custody for their alleged association with the non- state armed groups.



Source link: Leadership

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