Twenty five children cleared of ties with armed groups released-UNICEF

In November 2016, UNICEF Child Protection Officer walks with children at Maiduguri transit centre, Borno State, Nigeria. © UNICEF/UN038572/Naftalin (CNW Group/UNICEF Canada)

By Chika Onyesi

Another set of twenty five children initially suspected of ties with insurgents have been released from Army administrative custody, after being cleared of every involvement with terror groups.

The Twenty-three boys and two girls have also been handed over to the Borno State Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development for reintegration into their communities.

This recent release brings the total number of children cleared by the Nigerian Army of ties with armed groups in 2019 to 44.

The Acting Representative UNICEF Nigeria, Pernille Ironside says the children have been deprived of their childhood, education, health-care, and of the chance to grow up in a safe.

According to him, ‘‘UNICEF will continue working to ensure that all conflict affected children are reunited with their families, have hope of fulfilling their dreams and their human rights,”

‘‘The children will be kept at a UNICEF supported Transit Centre whilst efforts to reunite them with their families and reintegrate them back to their communities are underway. They will access medical and psycho-social support, education, vocational training and informal apprenticeships, and opportunities to improve their livelihoods’’.

A total of 2,499 persons including 1,627 children have been cleared of association with non-state armed groups since the beginning of the intervention.

Despite the number of children so far released, the UNICEF hopes to see more children suspected of involvement with armed groups, transferred out of military custody to the care of relevant local authorities.

‘‘As we commemorate the 30th Anniversary for the Convention of the Rights of the Child this year, we must collectively commit to do more for the protection, well-being and development of children in Nigeria, including by ensuring that they are not recruited or used in conflicts in the first place,” said Ironside.

‘‘UNICEF and partners will continue to provide age and gender appropriate community-based reintegration support services to all affected children and other vulnerable children in communities that are at risk of recruitment by armed groups’’.




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