The United Nations (UN) has disclosed that no fewer than 900 children held by a pro-government militia force fighting Boko Haram insurgents in Northeastern Nigeria were freed on Friday, May 10.
The United Nations Children's Fund said that about 894 children, including 106 girls, were released from the ranks of the government-backed Civilian Joint Task Force, a local militia which supports regular soldiers battling the Islamist insurgents.
Speaking at at a ceremony in the northeastern town of Maiduguri, UNICEF said the children were released as part of the CJTF’s “commitment to end and prevent the recruitment and use of children."
The UN organisation said that since September 2017, when the CJTF signed an action plan committing to put measures in place to end and prevent recruitment and use of children, 1,727 children and young people have been released.
It was also gathered that there has been no new recruitment of children by the CJTF.
UNICEF noting that children and young people released will benefit from reintegration programmes to help them return to civilian life, said the time is now for them to seize new opportunities for their own development, and contribute to bringing lasting peace in Nigeria, as productive citizens of their country.
According to the UNICEF, without this support, many of the children released from armed groups struggle to fit into civilian life, as most are not educated and have no vocational skills.
Speaking on the release of the children, the UNICEF chief in Nigeria, Mohamed Fall, said: "Children of Northeast Nigeria have borne the brunt of this conflict.
"They have been used by armed groups in combatant and non-combatant roles and witnessed death, killing and violence. We will continue until there is no child left in the ranks of all armed groups in Nigeria."
Meanwhile, Legit.ng reported that Nigerian Senate urged the federal government to do everything to secure the release of Leah Sharibu, the last Dapchi schoolgirl still in the captivity of Boko Haram.
Senator Shehu Sani had on Thursday, April 11, raised a point of order during plenary, drawing the attention of the federal government to the continuous captivity of Leah Sharibu.
He consequently called for legislative intervention to bring her and the remaining Chibok girls still in Boko Haram captivity back home.
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