The United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) has stated today ahead of the fifth anniversary of the Chibok abduction that more than 3,500 children, mostly within the age range of 13 to 17, were recruited by non-state armed groups between 2013 and 2017 and have been used in the ongoing armed conflict in north-east Nigeria.
While urging for protection of children’s rights, UNICEF stated that these numbers are only those that have been confirmed, while the true figures are likely to be higher.
“In addition to these children, 432 children were killed and maimed, 180 were abducted, and 43 girls were sexually abused in north-east Nigeria in 2018.”
Meanwhile, more than 100 of the abducted Chibok girls are still missing. The anniversary of the abduction, marked on 14 April, is a grim reminder that widespread abductions of children and grave violations of children’s rights continue to take place in the north-east.
UNICEF Representative in Nigeria, Muhammed Fall said, children should feel safe at home, in schools and on their playgrounds at all times.
“We are calling on the parties to the conflict to fulfil their obligations under international law to end violations against children and to stop targeting civilian infrastructure, including schools. This is the only way we can begin to make lasting improvements in the lives of children in this devastated part of Nigeria.
“Since 2012, non-state armed groups in north-east Nigeria have recruited and used children as combatants and non-combatants, raped and forced girls to marry, and committed other grave violations against children. Some of the girls become pregnant in captivity and give birth without any medical care or attention.”
UNICEF also stated that it would continue to offer its support to the Government of Nigeria in its strong efforts to protect the country’s children