Vigilantes vow to stop using child fighters
A volunteer vigilante group that formed to support Nigerian forces in the fight against Boko Haram signed a United Nationsbacked agreement Friday to root out children from its ranks.
The 30,000-member “Civilian Joint Task Force” (CJTF) has helped the military push the Islamists from towns across the northeast since 2013, as well as providing security for camps hosting people uprooted by Boko Haram’s eight-year insurgency.
Yet the CJTF has drawn criticism from activists who accuse its members of abuses including extortion and rape, and a U.N. report last year said the group had recruited children.
Under the agreement, which was backed by the U.N. children’s agency (UNICEF) and the Nigerian government, the CJTF has vowed to stop children from joining or fighting for the group, and to identify and release members younger than 18.
Boko Haram’s campaign to create an Islamic state has killed at least 20,000 people, uprooted 2.7 million and sparked one of the largest humanitarian crises in the world, aid agencies say.