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464 child soldiers freed from armed group in North east ─ UNICEF

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THE United Nations Children Agency (UNICEF), has announced that a total of 464  child soldiers, who were recruited into the Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF) in order to battle Boko Haram insurgents have been released. 

The UNICEF Nigeria that disclosed this on its official Twitter handle on Tuesday said the 464 former child soldiers would be reunited with their family members starting from today. 

Formed in 2013, CJTF is an armed local group that supports the Nigerian Army in the fight against insurgency in the North-eastern part of Nigeria. But children have in thousands been recruited into the local army group. 

So far in 2019, UNICEF said 1,358 children have been separated from CJTF with support from European Union Humanitarian Aid.

The agency said the use of children to fight during wars should stop as they are at risk of unspeakable violence.

“Although children are not responsible for wars, they are always the most affected,” it tweeted. “Recruitment and use of children in war expose them to unspeakable violence. It must stop.”

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A former child soldier that was separated from the armed vigilante group in 2018, whose name was not given said UNICEF trained him in skills to start a small business that has employed two people.  

“When I left the armed group CJTF, I was fully supported and given skills to start a small business,” he said.

“I have been out of school for long and could not go back,” said the trained entrepreneur who was separated from CJTF in 2018.

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