From Timothy Olanrewaju, Maiduguri
Over 8,000 children have been recruited and used as child soldiers by armed groups in the North East in more than a decade of insurgency.
United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Chief of Maiduguri Field Office, Phuong Nguyen, disclosed this yesterday in Maiduguri at a press conference on the International Day Against the Use of Child Soldiers, otherwise known as Red Hand Day
“Since 2009, more than 8,000 girls and boys have been recruited and used as child soldiers in different roles by armed groups.”
Nguyen said armed conflict in North East in about 13 years has claimed thousands of lives and disrupted livelihoods and access to essential services for children and their families.
She said nearly one million homes and 5,000 classrooms have been razed in the protracted armed conflict. “UNICEF called 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.”
Borno State Commissioner for women Affairs and Social Development, Hajiya Zuwara Gao, advocated institutional and legal framework and collaboration among stakeholders for successful re-integration of repentant insurgents and surrendered child soldiers. Most of the children were abducted by insurgents during attacks on communities and conscripted as fighters.