UNICEF

 

Twenty-three boys and two girls were released today (Thursday) from
Nigerian Army administrative custody after being cleared of suspected
ties with armed groups like Boko Haram and ISWAP.

This brings the number of children released this year to 44, says UNICEF.

“These are children taken away from their families and communities,
deprived of their childhood, education, health-care, and of the chance
to grow up in a safe and enabling environment. 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,” said UNICEF Nigeria acting representative, Pernille
Ironside.

The children have been handed over to the Borno State Ministry of
Women Affairs and Social Development and 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 psychosocial support, education,
vocational training, and informal apprenticeships, and opportunities
to improve their livelihoods.

“We have made progress, but we would like to see all children
suspected of involvement with armed groups, transferred out of
military custody to the care of the relevant local authorities as
quickly as possible to facilitate their return to their families and
communities, spending minimal, if any, time in detention.

"As we commemorate the 30th anniversary for the Convention of the
Rights of the Child this year, we must collectively commit to doing
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.

Since 2016, a total of 2,499 people including 1,627 children have been
cleared of association with non-state armed groups. UNICEF and
partners 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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