No fewer than 183 teenagers, hitherto working with Boko Haram terrorists, have been handed over to the United Nations by the Nigerian Army.
They were on Monday handed over to officials of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in Maiduguri, the Borno State.
They are for rehabilitation and re-integration. The Theatre Commander, Operation Lafiya Dole, Maj.-Gen Nicholas Rogers released the male and female teenagers. Rogers said they were arrested at various locations in the north east.
United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) hailed the release of the teenagers by Nigerian Armed Forces in Maiduguri. Mr. Mohamed Fall, UNICEF Representative in Nigeria gave the commendation in Abuja, noting that they were released after been cleared of ties with Boko Haram insurgents.
Fall identified them as ranges from age seven to 18 comprising of eight girls and 175 males. He commended the efforts of the military and the authorities, adding that their action demonstrated a clear commitment to ensuring better protection of children affected by the conflict.
“These eight girls and 175 boys are first and foremost victims of the ongoing conflict and their release is an important step on their long road to recovery.
“We will be working with the Borno State Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development and partners to provide the children with all the assistance they need.
“I also want to commend the action taken by the military and the authorities, it demonstrates a clear commitment to better protect children affected by the conflict.”
Fall noted that the children who have been in administrative custody for long period would receive medical attention and psychosocial support before the process of reuniting them with their families as well as reintegrating them into society.
According to him, since 2017, UNICEF has supported social and economic reintegration of over 8,700 children helping trace their families, returning them to their communities and offering them psychosocial support. “UNICEF has also help in their education, vocational training and informal apprenticeships and opportunities to improve livelihoods,” Fall noted.