An international network of human rights and humanitarian organisations, Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict, has called on the Federal Government and the United Nations to investigate recruitment and abuse of children in the North-East by both Boko Haram insurgents and self-defence militia known as Civillian Joint Task Force.
According to the report of the group’s investigation into the Boko Haram insurgency released on Thursday, both warring parties in North-East have subjected boys and girls to forced recruitment, detention, attacks at school, abductions, rape, and other forms of sexual violence.
It noted that the gravity and scale of these violations “warrant urgent action from the Nigerian Government, United Nations, and other child protection actors.”
The 64-page report, entitled “Who Will Care for Us? Grave Violations against Children in Northeastern Nigeria,” detailed grave violations by some parties to the conflict since December 2012 and provided recommendations on how to better protect children.
One of Watchlist’s researchers, Janine Morna, said, “While the abduction of over 200 girls in Chibok, Borno State, has shed some light on how children are affected by the conflict in the North-East, most abuses are still poorly documented, understood, and addressed by key actors. Children as young as 13 are being recruited by both sides of the conflict and have nowhere to turn.”
Though the study considered the activities of all the actors in the ongoing conflict in the North-East, it noted that of particular concern is the forced recruitment of children for spying and assistance during armed attacks by Boko Haram, and the Civilian JTF, which was formed in mid-2013 in Borno State.