Fred Ezeh, Abuja
United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), confirmed, yesterday that no fewer than 900 children were released by Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF), a local militia group helping the Nigerian security forces to combat insurgency in Northeast, Nigeria.
The figure consists of 894 children, including 106 girls. The new release brings total number of children released since 2017 to over 1,700.
UNICEF, in a statement released in Abuja, confirmed that the freed children would benefit from reintegration programmes to help them return to civilian life, seize new opportunities for self development, and contribute to bringing lasting peace in Nigeria, as productive citizens of their country.
UNICEF Country Representative in Nigeria, Mohammed Fall, said in the statement, that without support, many of the children would struggle to fit into civilian life, as most of them are uneducated and have no vocational skills.
He said that UNICEF will continue to work closely with state authorities and partners, to support the implementation of reintegration programmes for the freed children, as well as others affected by the ongoing conflict. He further disclosed that more than 3,500 children were recruited and used by non-state armed groups between 2013 and 2017 in North East. He said that some were abducted while others were maimed, raped or killed.
The country representative maintained that 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.