Children in Nigeria continue to face brutal abuse perpetrated by Boko Haram, and are also deeply affected by the military operations seeking to eliminate the terrorist group, said Virginia Gamba, the United Nations Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict.
“The children of Nigeria and neighboring countries continued to endure horrendous violations by Boko Haram,” she said in a statement, adding that the group’s expansion across the Lake Chad Basin region is “a serious concern” for Secretary-General António Guterres.
The UN says it recorded 5,741 grave violations against children in Nigeria between January 2017 and December 2019.
Boko Haram has waged a jihadist war in West Africa for more than a decade, killing tens of thousands and displacing millions others.
Gamba also noted that children involved with Boko Haram should not be placed under detention, but rather helped back into the society.
“Children formerly associated should not be further penalized through detention and I call on the Government of Nigeria to expedite the release of children from detention and prioritize their reintegration into society”, she said.
“I also urge the Government to review and adopt the protocol for the handover of children associated with armed groups to civilian child protection actors.”