Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Nigerian Army Hands Over 184 Ex-Boko Haram Child Soldiers To UN (Photos)

The Times Premium reports that the Nigerian army delivered Monday Monday in Maiduguri, Borno State, 184 child soldiers arrested while fighting alongside insurgents Boko Haram.

Theater Commander, Opera Lafiya Dole, Nicholas Rogers, officiated the handover at a brief ceremony held at Maimalari Barracks, 7 Division, Maiduguri.

In the last nine years of his insurgency in northeastern Nigeria, Boko Haram has engaged thousands of minor children as combatants.

Many children who were mostly forced to take up arms against the state were killed in fighting with government forces.

According to the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), more than 2,000 children were hired by Boko Haram in 2016 alone.

Between January 2013 and December 2016, Boko Haram mutilated, killed or used as child soldiers 12,850 children, said the agency.

Around 2,000 children have been released so far by the Nigerian army from the Borno state government and UNICEF.

There are currently about 7,000 children in UNICEF's reintegration program, said Ibrahim Cesay, the agency's senior child protection specialist, who represented the UN's humanitarian coordinator, Edward Kallon.

The theater's commander, Mr. Rogers, who handed the 184 former child soldiers to the Borno state government and UNICEF, said the children had been rescued in various military operations in the northeast.

He stated that the delivery of the children was in accordance with the directive of the Chief of Staff of the Army, Tukur Buratai, who, according to him, complies with the international humanitarian law concerning arrest, interrogation and rehabilitation. suspects.

"With regard to the request of the UN Humanitarian Coordinator and in accordance with the commitment of the Nigerian Army and Nigeria as a country to protect the rights of children affected by armed conflict in all their ramifications, the Chief 184 children who were associated with armed conflict and who were in the custody of the Nigerian army for sometimes, "he said.

In this regard, the Chief of Staff of the Army wants the Nigerian military to work with all relevant stakeholders and provide support in conflict areas, including working closely with UNICEF to children affected by the armed conflict in the north-east.

"We hope that all these released children will receive the full and complete physical and psychosocial support they need before their reintegration into society in general".

Borno State Government Representative Fanta Babashehu, Commissioner for Women's Affairs, thanked the Nigerian army for rescuing vulnerable children.

"This is not the first time we have received such children who were saved by the Nigerian army during this uprising," she said.

She added that the state government will admit all children into the UNICEF-run State Rehabilitation Center, where they will receive all the support and care necessary to make them fit for rehabilitation and reunification. with their families.

UNICEF Representative in Nigeria, Muhammad Fall, said in an earlier statement that "the eight girls and 175 boys are primarily victims of the ongoing conflict and their release is an important step on their long road to recovery".

"We will work with the Ministry of Women's Affairs and Social Development of Borno State and partners to provide children with all the assistance they need, and I would like to commend the actions of the military and the authorities. which demonstrate a clear commitment to better protect children affected by the ongoing conflict. "

He said that after being placed in administrative detention, children will receive medical care and psychosocial support before the process of reuniting them with their families and reintegrating them into society begins.

Although the authorities prevented journalists from talking with the children, some of them said they regretted their participation in Boko Harman's fight after spending some time in military detention.

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