The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) Representative in Nigeria, Mr Mohamed Fall, on Thursday called for the protection of children rights against violence and other forms of abuses in the country.
Mr Fall in a statement issued by the Communication Analyst, Kusali Kubwalo, UNICEF Field Office Maiduguri, said the call would serve as a reminder to widespread abductions and grave violation of children’s rights in the northeast region.
“More than 3, 500 children aged between 13 and 17 were recruited by non-state armed groups between 2013 and 2017; and used in the ongoing conflict in the northeast.
“In 2018; some 432 children were killed and maimed; 180 others abducted while 43 girls sexually abused in the war-torn region,” he said.
Fall noted that the figure represented the number of cases verified, adding that true figures were likely to be higher.
“Over 100 of the abducted Chibok schoolgirls remain missing.
“The anniversary of the abduction marked on April 14, is a grim reminder of the widespread abductions of children and grave violations of children’s rights continue to take place in the northeast.
“Children should feel safe at home, in schools and on their playgrounds at all times,” Fall was quoted as saying in the statement.
According to UNICEF, since 2012, non-state armed groups had recruited and used children as combatants, non-combatants, raped and forced girls to marry.
It added that armed groups also committed grave violations against children, lamenting that some of the girls become pregnant in captivity and gave birth without any medical care or attention.
The UN children’s agency called on parties to the conflict to fulfil their obligations under international laws, to end all form of violations against children, stop targeting community infrastructure such as schools.
“This is the only way we can begin to make lasting improvements in the lives of children in this devastated part of Nigeria.
“UNICEF continues to offer its support to the Government of Nigeria in its strong efforts to protect the country’s children. UNICEF works with the Borno State Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development and other partners to support children who have been rescued or escaped from captivity.”
The UN agency disclosed that it had provided community-based reintegration services to over 9, 800 persons formerly associated with armed groups, as well as vulnerable children in communities in the past two years.