The United Nations says 881 children were either killed or maimed by Boko Haram and Nigerians Security Forces in 2017.
This was contained in the UN Secretary-General’s report on ‘children and armed conflict’.
Many of the casualties were recorded after aerial bombardments and the targeting of children suspected to be carrying person-borne improvised explosive devices.
“The United Nations verified a total of 881 children killed (570) and maimed (311) in Nigeria, attributed to Boko Haram (620) and to Nigerian Security Forces (NSF) (261),” the report read in part.
Almost half of all casualties resulted from suicide attacks perpetrated by Boko Haram (including the use of children as carriers of person-borne improvised explosive devices) (411).
The report added, “With regard to NSF, casualties were caused by aerial bombardments (235) and the targeting of children suspected to be carrying person-borne improvised explosive devices (26).”
The Nigerian military has yet to respond the report.
Among what the UN described as “grave violations” against children was their detention and recruitment by Boko Haram.
“A worrying trend was the continued use of children by Boko Haram as carriers of person-borne improvised explosive devices, with 146 cases documented in Nigeria and 57 in Cameroon. Almost three-quarters of the children used were girls (145),” the report said.
“The United Nations verified 45 incidents of rape and other forms of sexual violence, affecting 131 children, including 9 boys. Cases were attributed to Boko Haram (9 boys, 116 girls) and NSF (6 girls). All child victims attributed to Boko Haram.”
Also in 2017, the UN said, “2,199 children were deprived of liberty for their or their parents’ alleged association with Boko Haram, in Nigeria (1,903), the Niger (239) and Cameroon (57)”.
Nigerian forces have been able to limit the activities of the Boko Haram terrorists in recent years and the UN believes that has led to a decrease in the number of children recruited to fight in 2017.
It said, “The total number of verified cases of the recruitment and use of children decreased by almost 50 percent, from 2,122 in 2016 to 1,092 (738 boys, 353 girls, one unknown sex) in 2017.
“The main perpetrator remained Boko Haram (1,051). The Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF) recruited 41 children, all of whom were used in support roles. The decrease may be attributed to the loss of territory by Boko Haram, the displacement of civilians from areas controlled by the group and the CJTF action plan, signed by the group in 2017.”
UN chief António Guterres is outraged over the impact of the insurgency on children.
“Boys and girls have once again been overly impacted by protracted and new violent crisis. Despite some progress, the level of violations remains unacceptable,” he said.