The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) on Friday welcomed the release of 833 children from the rank of Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF) in Maiduguri.
Pernille Ironside, Deputy Representative of UNICEF Nigeria, made the commendation in a statement made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja.
The official emphasised that the release was part of the commitment to end and prevent the recruitment of children.
Ironside also the Co-chair of United Nations Country Task Force on Monitoring and Reporting on grave child rights violations (CTFMR) identified the children as the first set release from CJTF since September 2017.
She said: “The release of these children from CJTF shows commitment to implement the provisions of the Action Plan and to uphold International humanitarian law, human rights laws as well as other regional and national legislations, protecting children’s rights.”
According to her, CTFMR signed an action plan committing institutional measures to end and prevent child recruitment following a listing in the annexes of the UN Secretary-General’s Annual Report for Children and Armed Conflict for the recruitment and use of children.
“This is a significant milestone in ending the recruitment and use of children, but many more children remain in the ranks of other armed groups in either combat or support roles.
“We call on all parties to stop recruiting children and let children be children.
“Since the Action Plan was signed, members of the CTFMR initiated a joint field verification exercise to ascertain the presence and association of children within the command structures and ranks of the CJTF.
“As of today, a total of 1,469 children comprising 1,175 boys and 294 girls, associated with the CJTF have been identified within the city of Maiduguri,” she said.
Ironside pledged UNICEF continuous commitment to work closely with state authorities to support the implementation of reintegration programmes for the children release as well as others affected by the ongoing conflict.
She further noted that the organisation has supported the social and economic reintegration of more than 8,700 children released from armed groups, helping trace their families and returning them to their communities.
According to her, UNICEF has also given the children psychosocial support, education, vocational training and informal apprenticeships and opportunities to improve livelihoods.