The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has called on Boko Haram sect to stop the recruitment and use of children as suicide bombers in the North-East.
UNICEF also called on all parties in the conflict to respect international child right laws.
The UNICEF’s Country Representative, Mr Mohamed Fall, made the call after the official signing of Action Plan Agreement against recruitment of children between the organisation and Borno State Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF).
The Action Plan Agreement was signed by the UNICEF, Borno State Government and CJTF, in Maiduguri.
Fall noted that the increase in the use of children in the conflict in the North-East was a source of concern to the UN and it must stop.
He said that UNICEF was saddled with responsibilities of protecting children against abuse and violations; safeguard and promote their rights to education, health and general wellbeing.
Fall stressed the need for all parties in the conflict to show greater commitments toward the protection of children against any form of violation.
“I will like to call on all the parties in the conflict; mainly the Boko Haram to immediately stop recruiting and using children; the use of children by Boko Haram as a human bomb is particularly disturbing and vulnerable.
“According to our reports within the last three years, 140 children and mostly girls and even babies are being used as human bombs in North-East Nigeria.
“I will like to remind everyone that recruitment and use of children is a war crime and a crime against humanity”.
Fall noted with dismay that “too many children were destroyed by the crisis in the North-East region.
The UNICEF official added that the action plan agreement with the CJTF would build new hope and brighter future for children in the conflict areas.
“The action plan agreement is an important milestone for child protection and paves the way for a brighter future for children caught up in the conflict in the region,” Fall said.
Also speaking, Mr Jubril Gunda, the CJTF’s Legal Adviser, said the group had set up a five man committee to enhance implementation and compliance with the action plan agreement.
Gunda explained that the group accorded priority to the protection of children in the conflict ravaged areas of the state.
He disclosed that the group in collaboration with the UNICEF, military and other security agencies would build the capacity of its members to expose them on best human right practices to ensure protection of children.
According to him, the group would also set up a children right protection desk, to promote respect of rights and rehabilitation of children affected by the conflict.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that CJTF is a volunteer force formed in 2013, to assist security forces in the fight against the Boko Haram insurgency.
The group in collaboration with the military had engaged in various combat operations, providing security at Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps and liberated communities in the state.
However, CJTF was listed in the 2016 annexes of the UN Secretary General’s Annual General Report for Children and Armed conflict for recruitment and use of children.