A report released on Monday by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), said over 8,000 Nigerian children have been recruited and used as child soldiers by armed groups in the North-East since 2019.
In a statement by the international humanitarian agency issued by its Maiduguri Chief Field Officer, Phuong T. Nguyen, the organisation called on the Nigerian government to secure the immediate release of those in the custody of such groups as well provide support for former child soldiers in the region.
The UNICEF report came on a day set aside to commemorate the International Day Against the Use of Child Soldiers, otherwise known as “Red Hand Day.”
“For 13 years, armed conflict in North-East Nigeria has claimed thousands of lives and disrupted livelihoods and access to essential services for children and their families.
“We call for an immediate end to the recruitment and use of innocent children as soldiers or for any other conflict-related role.
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“It is unacceptable and unconscionable that girls and boys continue to serve on the frontlines of a conflict they did not start.
“UNICEF calls on the Nigerian authorities to sign the Handover Protocol for children encountered in the course of armed conflict in Nigeria and the Lake Chad Basin Region, which would end the detention of children formerly associated with armed groups.
“We must do more to ensure that Nigeria’s children do not suffer the worst impacts of conflict.
“We owe girls and boys a chance to leave the horrors of conflict behind. Every day of delay in the custody of armed groups is a tragedy with grave implications for the children, families, and Nigerian society as a whole,” the statement said.
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