November 29, 2021

NEWS AGENCY OF NIGERIA

Africa's Media Giant

UNICEF welcomes delisting of CJTF in “Children and armed conflict” report

UNICEF welcomes delisting of CJTF in “Children and armed conflict” report

UNICEF welcomes delisting of CJTF in “Children and armed conflict” report

NAN reports that the annually published UN report aims to highlight trends with regards to the impact of armed conflict on children from countries around the world and provide information on violations committed.

By Katurak Yashim

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), has welcomed the delisting of Nigeria’s Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF) from the UN’s 2021 report on Children and Armed Conflict.

UNICEF reacted to the development in a statement released on Monday, in Abuja, describing the UN’s decision as “a step forward for child protection”.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Antonio Guterres, the UN Secretary-General, in his annual report, delisted the CJTF as one of the armed groups recruiting and using children in North-East Nigeria.

The UN report which was released in May 2021, covered the period  January to December 2020.

NAN reports that the annually published UN report aims to highlight trends with regards to the impact of armed conflict on children from countries around the world and provide information on violations committed.

Guterres’s statement in the report reads: “In Nigeria, the CJTF armed group has been delisted following a significant decrease in the recruitment and use of children, through the continued implementation of its action plan, which was signed with the UN in 2017.

UNICEF said that since signing the 2017 Action Plan, the CJTF had released more than 2,000 children, adding that many of the children have enrolled in school and provided psychosocial support.

“This is a welcome development for children in Nigeria. We must remember, however, that this is the first step in a long journey.

“Formed in 2013, to support efforts of the Nigerian military to protect communities from Boko Haram attacks, the CJTF expanded in size and influence in the north-east region.

“At the height of its operations in 2016, the group was listed in the annexes of the secretary-general’s annual report for children and armed conflict for the recruitment and use of children.

“In his latest report released this year, the UN Secretary-General credited the delisting of the CJTF to a significant reduction in the number of children recruited into the ranks of the CJTF.

According to UNICEF, Guterres also credited the delisting to the armed group’s commitment to implement the action plan it signed with the UN Country Task Force on Monitoring and Reporting (CTFMR) in 2017.

It said that the action plan signed by the group was aimed at stopping the recruitment and use of children.

UNICEF said that children have been most affected by the northeast conflict as between 2013 and 2020, more than 3,500 were recruited by parties to the conflict as combatants.

The UN agency said that children used as soldiers were at great risk of death or disability, while undergoing armed training and initiation rites, as well as during combat.

It said that girls and boys had also been used as suicide bombers, spies, laborers, cooks, messengers, and wives adding that girls recruited by armed groups often suffer Gender-Based Violence (GBV), including rape.

“They are forced to witness or participate in tortures and killings, triggering lifelong physical and mental health challenges.

“Similarly, they are denied access to education, nutrition, and conducive living conditions, among other grave violations of their rights.

The statement quoted Phuong Nguyen, the Chief of UNICEF’s Maiduguri Field Office, as saying “I urge the leadership of the CJTF to establish child protection units across its offices.

“This will help to prevent future recruitment and use of children. It will also allow the group to consistently model its agreement to not use children for any kind of role.

“Recruiting children into armed groups steals their innocence and the protection they need. We should not forget, deploying children as soldiers imperil the peace and perpetuate the cycle of generational violence.

Nguyen called on other armed groups and parties to the conflict, to immediately stop the recruitment of children and safely reintegrate them with their families and communities. (NAN)