Over 8,000 girls and boys have been recruited and used as child soldiers in different roles by armed groups across Nigeria, The United Nations Children’s Fund has disclosed.
This was contained in a statement by UNICEF on Monday titled, ‘UNICEF calls for end to recruitment and use of child soldiers’, to commemorate the International Day Against the Use of Child Soldiers, known better as “Red Hand Day”.
UNICEF Chief of Maiduguri Field Office, Phuong T. Nguyen, said for 13 years, armed conflict in North-East Nigeria has claimed thousands of lives, disrupted livelihoods and access to essential services for children and their families.
According to her, nearly one million homes and 5,000 classrooms have been razed in the protracted armed conflict.
“We call for an immediate end to the recruitment and use of innocent children as soldiers or for any other conflict-related role.
“It is unacceptable and unconscionable that girls and boys continue to serve on the frontlines of a conflict they did not start,” she said.
Nguyen, however, called for an end to the recruitment and use of children by armed groups in Nigeria, and the release of those in the custody of such groups.
“We must do more to ensure that Nigeria’s children do not suffer the worst impacts of conflict.
“We owe girls and boys a chance to leave the horrors of conflict behind. Every day of delay in the custody of armed groups is a tragedy with grave implications for the children, families, and Nigerian society as a whole,” she said.