- UNICEF on Monday, December 30, said over 20,000 children have been violated in the conflict rocking the north east region of Nigeria in seven years
- The international agency said ten years of conflict in Nigeria's north east is coinciding with the end of a decade has dealt a massive level of violations against children in the region
- According to UNICEF, attacks on children have continued unabated as warring parties flout one of the most basic rules of war: the protection of children
The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) has said that over 20,000 grave violations were carried out against Nigerian children in the last seven years.
UNICEF while warning that children across the globe have continued to pay a deadly price in the face of the conflict said, the agency has verified more than 170,000 grave violations against children.
It also said that there has been an equivalent of more than 45 violations every day for the last 10 years against children.
In Nigeria and across all countries, UNICEF works with partners to provide the most vulnerable children with health, nutrition, education and child protection services.
A statement by UNICEF's chief of communications, advocacy and partnerships, Eliana Drakopoulos, said in Nigeria’s north-east, the figure is almost 20,000 in the last seven years.
Also, the agency's Nigeria's acting representative, Pernille Ironside, said ten years of conflict in Nigeria's north east is coinciding with the end of a decade has dealt a massive level of violations against children in the region.
Boko Haram terrorists started operation in 2009 in the north east region of Nigeria after their leader Mohammed Yusuf was killed by officers of the Nigeria Police.
Continuing, Ironside said the violations against children in conflict situations include killings, maiming, abductions, rape, severe psychological trauma, and extreme disruption of their education – leaving them vulnerable possibly for the rest of their lives.
“Children should never be a target in any armed conflict - and everything must be done to protect children when they find themselves in areas of conflict. Sadly, this has too often not been the case during the conflict in north-east Nigeria, with children paying the heaviest price for the ongoing crisis," Ironside said.
He also said that beyond Nigeria, the number of countries experiencing conflict is the highest it has been since the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1989, with dozens of violent armed conflicts killing and maiming children and forcing them from their homes.
“Conflicts around the world are lasting longer, causing more bloodshed and claiming more young lives,” Henrietta Fore, UNICEF’s executive director said.
She added that attacks on children have continued unabated as warring parties flout one of the most basic rules of war: the protection of children.
"For every act of violence against children that creates headlines and cries of outrage, there are many more that go unreported," Fore said.
The statement added that in 2018, the UN verified more than 24,000 grave violations against children globally while monitoring and reporting efforts have been strengthened.
The agency said this number is more than two-and-a-half times higher than that recorded in 2010, more than 12,000 children were killed or maimed globally in 2018 - almost 800 of them in Nigeria’s north-east.
Globally, continued, widespread use of airstrikes and explosive weapons such as landmines, mortars, improvised explosive devices, rocket attacks, cluster munitions and artillery shelling cause the vast majority of child casualties in armed conflict.
It said attacks and violence against children have not let up throughout 2019.
"During the first half of the year, the UN has verified over 10,000 such violations against children – although actual numbers are likely to be much higher. This number is close to 200 children in Nigeria’s north-east crisis," the statement said.
UNICEF further called on all warring parties, including in Nigeria, to abide by their obligations under international law and to immediately end violations against children and the targeting of civilian infrastructure, including schools, hospitals and water infrastructure.
Meanwhile, Legit.ng previously reported that the United Nations had said that about 900 children held by a pro-government militia force fighting Boko Haram insurgents in Northeastern Nigeria were freed on Friday, May 10.
According to UNICEF, 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 insurgents.
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