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Nearly 900 child soldiers freed from armed group in north-east
A TOTAL of 894 children, including 106 girls, were released from the ranks of the Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF) in Maiduguri, north-east Nigeria today says UNICEF.
As part of its commitment to end and prevent the recruitment and use of children, CJTF signed an action plan in September 2017 committing to putting measures in place to end and prevent recruitment and use of children and young people in the fight against terrorism.
Mohamed Fall, Representative of United Nations Children’s Fund in Nigeria and the Co-chair of United Nations Country Task Force on Monitoring and Reporting on Grave Child Rights Violations (CTFMR) hailed the move as a catalyst for positive change and protection of child rights.
“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 recognised and encouraged.
“Children of north-east Nigeria 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 (sic) their physical and emotional well-being.”
According to UNICEF, the reintegration programmes will help the children return to civilian life, seize new opportunities for their own development, and contribute to bringing lasting peace in Nigeria, as productive citizens of the country.
It is reported that more than 3,500 children were recruited and used by non-state armed groups between 2013 and 2017 while 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.
The CJTF is a local militia that helps the Nigerian security forces in the fight against insurgency in north-east Nigeria. It was formed in 2013, with the aim of protecting communities from attack.