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UNICEF bemoans Boko Haram attacks on Children

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“In northeast Nigeria, armed groups, including Boko Haram factions, continue to target girls, who are raped, forced to become wives of fighters or used as ‘human bombs’.” – UNICEF

Image credit: UNICEF

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has bemoaned the attacks on children by a faction of Boko Haram terrorists in Nigeria and the Lake Chad Basin region in 2018. UNICEF says Boko Haram terrorists committed grave atrocities against children in the course of 2018 in these two regions.

In a report ‘How the world failed children in conflict in 2018’, UNICEF also said the world failed to protect children in conflicts in Nigeria and 14 other countries in 2018.

UNICEF lamented that the future of millions of children living in Nigeria and other countries affected by armed conflicts were at risk. This is because warring parties continued to commit grave violations against children, and world leaders failed to hold those responsible to account.

The other countries are Afghanistan, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iraq, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Myanmar, Palestine, South Sudan, Somalia, Syria, Ukraine, and Yemen.

The UN Agency further said that it is unacceptable that children living in countries at war had come under direct attacks, had been used as human shields, killed, maimed or recruited to fight.

According to UNICEF, among the various tactics deployed by BOKO Haram and the factional Islamic State West Africa Province against children include rape, forced marriage and abduction. UNICEF says:

“In northeast Nigeria, armed groups, including Boko Haram factions, continue to target girls, who are raped, forced to become wives of fighters or used as ‘human bombs’. In February, the group abducted 110 girls and one boy from a technical college in Dapchi, Yobe State. While most of the children have since been released, five girls died and one is still being held captive as a slave.”

According to UNICEF, the education of 3.5 million children is in jeopardy in the Lake Chad Basin due to ongoing conflicts, displacement and attacks on schools, teachers and other education facilities.

“Today in northeast Nigeria, the Lake region of Chad, extreme north of Cameroon and Diffa region of Niger, at least 1,041 schools are closed or non-functional due to violence, fear of attacks, or unrest, affecting nearly 445,000 children.”

UNICEF has been working relentlessly with partners to provide the most vulnerable children with health, nutrition, education and child protection services in all these countries even in perilous circumstances.

“For example, in October, UNICEF helped to secure the release of 833 children recruited into armed forces in northeast Nigeria, and is working with partners to reintegrate them into their communities.”

Mr Manuel Fontaine, UNICEF Director of Emergency Programmes, said children suffering atrocities and the number of countries in conflict hit new peak in 2018.

“Children living in conflict zones around the world have continued to suffer through extreme levels of violence over the past 12 months, and the world has continued to fail them.

For too long, parties to conflict have been committing atrocities with near-total impunity, and it is only getting worse. Much more can and must be done to protect and assist children.

2019 marks the 30th anniversary of the landmark Convention on the Rights of the Child and the 70th anniversary of the Geneva Conventions, yet today, more countries are embroiled in internal or international conflict than at any other time in the past three decades.

Children living through conflict are among the least likely to be guaranteed their rights. Attacks on children must end.”

The UN Children Agency has enjoined warring parties and States to rise up to their obligations under international law to immediately end violations against children and the targeting of civilian infrastructure, including schools, hospitals and water infrastructure. The Agency particularly charged States to use their influences over warring factions to protect children.

“Much more needs to be done to prevent wars, and to end the many disastrous armed conflicts devastating children’s lives.

Yet even as wars continue, we must never accept attacks against children. We must hold warring parties to their obligation to protect children.

Otherwise, it is children, their families and their communities who will continue to suffer the devastating consequences, for now, and for years to come.”