The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) welcomes the release of 833 children from the ranks of the Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF) in Maiduguri, northeast Nigeria, as part of its commitment to end and prevent the recruitment and use of children.
This is the first formal release of children from the CJTF since September 2017 when the group signed an action plan committing to put measures in place 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.
Pernille Ironside, deputy representative of UNICEF Nigeria and the Co-chair of United Nations Country Task Force on Monitoring and Reporting on grave child rights violations (CTFMR) 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.”
“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,” Ironside said.
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 Civilian Joint Task Force. As of today, a total of 1,469 children (1,175 boys and 294 girls), associated with the Civilian Joint Task Force have been identified within the city of Maiduguri.
UNICEF continues to work closely with state authorities to support the implementation of reintegration programmes for the children released today as well as others affected by the ongoing conflict.
Since 2017, UNICEF has supported the social and economic reintegration of more than 8,700 children released from armed groups, helping trace their families, returning them to their communities, and offering them psychosocial support, education, vocational training and informal apprenticeships, and opportunities to improve livelihoods.