The United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund has condemned the deaths of some children in Borno State, North-East Nigeria, who were reportedly killed by explosive devices.
SaharaReporters had on Friday reported that some children were killed on Thursday while playing with a disused grenade outside Ngala community, a town that shares the border with Cameroon.
UNICEF, in a statement on Saturday, said the death of the children was unavoidable as it stressed that children should not be victims of conflicts they never started.
The body stated that children remain direct and indirect targets of the conflicts in northeast Nigeria as it called on all sides to the ongoing conflict to ensure the protection of children and prioritise their wellbeing at all times.
The statement reads, “The avoidable deaths of the children – as young as 12 years – who were playing on Mblu Bridge in Ngala, is yet another sad reminder that children remain direct and indirect targets of the protracted conflict wrecking North-East Nigeria. While three children have sadly lost their lives, three others are in critical conditions while two other children sustained mild injuries.
“In 12 years of protracted conflict in the north-east, thousands of children in the region have been killed, maimed, abducted, displaced, and experienced multiple violations of their human rights. UNICEF is deeply worried that conflict-affected children continue to be casualties of war.”
Peter Hawkins, UNICEF Nigeria Representative added, “First of all, we extend our deepest and heartfelt sympathy to the families of the children killed. No family should have to go through this – and no child should fall victim to unexploded remnants of war while playing.
“Children are at particular risk from unexploded ordnance, which are small enough to pick up or kick around, and which children can mistake for toys or objects of value. Such weapons account for over half of those killed or injured by landmines and other explosive remnants of war globally.
“These deaths are unacceptable. All sides to the ongoing conflict must protect children and prioritise their wellbeing at all times. Playing fields, schoolyards and communities must be safe and habitable for children.
“Children’s lives should not be at stake in a conflict they didn’t start. We must address the shrinking safe spaces for children and ensure that children – especially those already affected by conflict – are protected and have a chance to survive and fulfil their potential.”