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Nigerian Military Hands Over 25 Children With Boko Haram Links To UN Children’s Fund, Borno State Government

CHIEF OF DEFENCE STAFF, GENERAL GABRIEL OLONISAKIN 

MAIDUGURI, BORNO STATE, NIGERIA - The head of the military counter-insurgency in the North-East (Operation Lafiya Dole), Major General Olusegun Adeniyi, has handed over no fewer than 25 children, 23 boys and two girls, who have had links with Boko Haram, to the United Nations Children’s Fund and the Borno State Government.

It would be recalled that the lucky children had been placed under the military’s administrative custody.

The children were handed over  after they had been cleared of ties with armed groups.

So far, 44 children have been released by the military this year.

The children, who are between the ages of eight and 15 years, were abducted by Boko Haram during attacks on their communities, and were forced to work for their abductors in different supportive roles.

During the handing over of the children, Major General Olusegun Adeniyi, pointed out that some of the children escaped from their abductors and found their way to troops’ locations.

According to Major General Olusegun Adeniyi, “Children associated with insurgency are commonly subjected to abuse and most of them witnessed killings and sexual violence.

“Regardless of how they are recruited and the roles they played, their part ovation bears serious implications for their physical and emotional well-being.

“Therefore, their rehabilitation and reintegration into civilian life is an essential part of our effort in partnership with other stakeholders to help them rebuild their lives.

“The children seated here today have been adequately profiled and their roles with Boko Haram ascertained as supportive and non-violent. 

"Some of them are children whose parents were arrested for terrorist offences and there is no justification to keep them in detention alongside their parents.”

Pernille Ironside, the UNICEF Nigeria Acting Representative, had this to say: “These are children taken away from their families and communities, deprived of their childhood, education, health-care, and of the chance to grow up in a safe and enabling environment. 

"UNICEF will continue working to ensure that all conflict affected children are reunited with their families, have hope of fulfilling their dreams and their human rights.”

Pernille Ironside, argued that the children who were being handed over to the Borno State Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development, would be kept at a UNICEF supported transit centre while efforts to reunite them with their families and reintegrate them back to their communities were underway.

According to Pernille Ironside, "They will access medical and psychosocial support, education, vocational training and informal apprenticeships, and opportunities to improve their livelihoods.”

Receiving the children from the military, the Borno State Commissioner of Women Affairs and Social Development, hinted that they would be given proper care and allowed to get back to school.

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