833 chil­dren re­leased by Nige­rian mili­tia group

Oman Daily Observer - - WORLD -

GENEVA: A mili­tia fight­ing against the mil­i­tant group Boko Haram in north­east Nige­ria has re­leased 833 chil­dren from its own ranks, some as young as 11, the UN chil­dren’s agency Unicef said on Fri­day.

Unicef spokesman Christophe Boulierac said the Civil­ian Joint Task Force (CJTF) was formed in 2013 by vig­i­lante groups in Borno state to fight Boko Haram which it­self gained in­ter­na­tional no­to­ri­ety for kid­nap­ping school­girls in the town of Chi­bok.

The CJTF signed an ac­tion plan in Septem­ber 2017 to end child re­cruit­ment, and the re­lease of the chil­dren, 40 per cent of whom were 15 or younger, was its first for­mal re­lease.

“This is a sig­nif­i­cant mile­stone in end­ing the re­cruit­ment and use of chil­dren, but many more chil­dren re­main in the ranks of other armed groups in ei­ther com­bat or sup­port roles,” Unicef Nige­ria deputy rep­re­sen­ta­tive Pernille Iron­side said in a state­ment.

The re­leased chil­dren were among 1,175 boys and 294 girls who had been iden­ti­fied as be­ing as­so­ci­ated with the CJTF in the city of Maiduguri, Unicef said, al­though the to­tal has yet to be ver­i­fied and could in­clude an­other 2,200 or more chil­dren.

It said that it had sup­ported the rein­te­gra­tion of more than 8,700 chil­dren re­leased from armed groups since 2017, help­ing trace their fam­i­lies, re­turn­ing them to their com­mu­ni­ties and of­fer­ing them psy­cho-so­cial sup­port, ed­u­ca­tion, vo­ca­tional train­ing and in­for­mal ap­pren­tice­ships.

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