Boko Haram: CJTF frees 833 child soldiers – UNICEF

A cross section of Civilian JTF fighters in the North-East
A cross section of Civilian JTF fighters in the North-East

The Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF) fighting against the Boko Haram in North-east Nigeria, has released 833 children from its own ranks.

The United Nations Children’s Education Fund (UNICEF), which made this known on Friday, said some of the children are as young as 11 years-old.

UNICEF spokesman Christophe Boulierac, said the task force, a local militia formed in 2013 by a number of vigilante groups in Borno, said this on Friday.

“The release of these children from CJTF shows commitment to implement the provisions of the Action Plan and to uphold international humanitarian law, human rights laws as well as other regional and national legislation, protecting children’s rights,” the deputy representative of UNICEF Nigeria and the co-chair of United Nations Country Task Force on Monitoring and Reporting on Grave Child Rights Violations (CTFMR), Pernille Ironside, also said in another statement on Friday.

“This is a significant milestone in ending the recruitment and use of children, but many more children remain in the ranks of other armed groups in either combat or support roles. We call on all parties to stop recruiting children and let children be children,” she added.

She furthered explained that since the Action Plan was signed, members of the CTFMR initiated a joint field verification exercise to ascertain the presence and association of children within the command structures and ranks of the CJTF

”As of today, a total of 1,469 children (1,175 boys and 294 girls), associated with the Civilian Joint Task Force have been identified within the city of Maiduguri.

”UNICEF continues to work closely with state authorities to support the implementation of reintegration programmes for the children released today as well as others affected by the ongoing conflict.

”Since 2017, UNICEF has supported the social and economic reintegration of more than 8,700 children released from armed groups, helping trace their families, returning them to their communities, and offering them psychosocial support, education, vocational training, informal apprenticeships, and opportunities to improve livelihoods,” she added.

The region has been rocked by an unending violence that has led to the deaths of thousands and displacement of many more. The CJTF has been assisting the Nigerian military to curtail the activities of the deadly Boko Haram sect.

However, many security experts have indicated that the activities of the CJTF also need to be monitored especially their reported recruitment of children so they do not blossom into another security threat.


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