Boko Haram has destroyed lives and dreams and has moved beyond the realm of extremes and hostilities to utilizing children as tools of war in suicide attacks to further its agenda of evil. According to a UNICEF report issued today, “Beyond Chibok,” child proxies have been used in suicide attacks in Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad, and Niger, with close to 20% of suicide bombers being children, 75% of them young girls, and the number of child suicide attacks escalating tenfold. (See: “UN Reports Tenfold Jump in Number of Children Used in ‘Suicide’ Attacks in Nigeria Regional Conflict”)
The world watched in horror at the abduction of 200 schoolgirls from Chibok, Nigeria two years ago. The campaign #BringBackOurGirls was tweeted and embraced; however, many of these young women have not been welcomed into their communities which see these children as security risks. Having survived captivity and sexual violence, they must not be met with further stigmatization but nurtured and healed by their families, communities, and world at large.
UN News Feed
Manuel Fontaine, UNICEF Regional Director for West and Central Africa: “Let us be clear: these children are victims, not perpetrators. Deceiving children and forcing them to carry out deadly acts has been one of the most horrific aspects of the violence in Nigeria and in neighbouring countries.”
The calculated use of children who may have been coerced into carrying bombs has created an atmosphere of fear and suspicion that has devastating consequences for girls who have survived captivity and sexual violence by Boko Haram in north-east Nigeria, the agency stressed.
“As ‘suicide’ attacks involving children become commonplace, some communities are starting to see children as threats to their safety,” said Mr. Fontaine. “This suspicion towards children can have destructive consequences; how can a community rebuild itself when it is casting out its own sisters, daughters and mothers?”
The report assesses the impact that conflict has had on children in the four countries affected by Boko Haram. It notes that nearly 1.3 million children have been displaced; about 1,800 schools are closed – either damaged, looted, burned down or used as shelter by displaced people; and more than 5,000 children were reported unaccompanied/separated from their parents.
UNICEF said it is working with communities and families in Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon and Niger to fight stigma against survivors of sexual violence and to build a protective environment for former abductees.
For More Stories, See:
“Needs of #Refugee Children of the Central African Republic & Nigeria”
“Education is a Human Right”
“East African Albino Children Viciously Attacked & Targeted”
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