UNITED NA­TIONS Civil­ian ‘army’ re­leases 830 chil­dren in Nige­ria

Saturday Star - - WORLD -

MORE than 830 chil­dren had been re­leased by a civil­ian joint task force (CJTF) in northern Nige­ria, set up to help the army fight Is­lamist ter­ror­ist group Boko Haram, United Na­tions chil­dren’s fund Unicef said yes­ter­day.

It is the first for­mal re­lease of chil­dren from the CJTF in Maiduguri, the cap­i­tal of Borno State, since Septem­ber last year, when the group for­mally com­mit­ted to stop­ping child re­cruit­ment, ac­cord­ing to Unicef.

How­ever, Unicef Nige­ria deputy rep­re­sen­ta­tive Pernille Iron­side warned that many more chil­dren re­mained in the ranks of the CJTF and other armed groups in ei­ther com­bat or sup­port roles.

“We call on all par­ties to stop re­cruit­ing chil­dren and let chil­dren be chil­dren,” Iron­side said.

Unicef had iden­ti­fied 1 469 chil­dren – among them 1175 boys and 294 girls – as be­ing part of the CJTF in Maiduguri.

Since 2009, tens of thou­sands of peo­ple have died at the hands of the ter­ror­ists in the re­gion and an es­ti­mated 2.59mil­lion peo­ple have fled their homes.

The goal of the group, which also launches of­fen­sives in neigh­bour­ing Chad, Niger and Cameroon, is to en­force a strict in­ter­pre­ta­tion of Is­lamic law, known as sharia. |

dpa

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