By Chinyere Amalu
ABUJA â€” The United Nations Childrenâ€™s Education Fund, UNICEF, has lamentedÂ the death of the children in the religious violence that erupted in Bauchi on December 28, saying it is deplorable as it is exploitation of vulnerable children.
Observers, according to Unicef, have reported that most of the sect members involved in the incident were children aged between 10 and 15, backed by adult members of the group.
In a statement released by Unicef, millions of children in northern Nigeria live in very precarious circumstances, many away from their families, adding: â€œThese children are extremely vulnerable to the influence of those who offer them even meagre sustenance.
â€œUNICEF deplores the exploitation of vulnerable children, which so often ends in tragedy. It calls on governments, traditional and religious leaders, communities and families to ensure that these children are properly cared for, receive quality education and are protected against abuse and violence, whatever the source of their vulnerability,â€ it said.
According to the results of a survey released by the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development earlier this month, nearly one quarter of all children in Nigeria â€” about 17.5 million â€” are orphans or vulnerable in other ways.
The burden of orphans and vulnerable children in Nigeria, the survey found, â€œis higher than in countries at war such as Sudan, Somalia and the Democratic Republic of Congo and those with high HIV prevalence rates in Southern and Eastern Africa.”