United Nations human rights experts gave hints on the true nature of victims of Boko Haram deadly attacks in parts of the country
The international organisation said suicide bombings have gone beyound Nigeria’s borders because of the growing number of deadly attacks carried out by children strapped with explosives
A Nigerian researcher, Mausi Segun disclosed that about one million Nigerian children are missing out on education because Boko Haram has destroyed more than 900 schools and killed over 600 teachers
A report released by the United Nations human rights experts revealed that the Boko Haram terrorist group dispatched 44 child suicide bombers to Nigeria and Cameroun in 2015.
This Day reports that Laurent Duvillier, regional spokesman for the United Nations Children’s Fund told the Thomson Reuters foundation, on Tuesday, April 12, that the figure grew from four in 2014 to the present number.
The spokesman disclosed that child suicide bombings have increased 11-fold over the years with children as young as 8-year-old, mostly girls, detonating bombs in schools and markets. He said hinted that suicide bombings have spread far above Nigeria’s borders following the increased number of bloody attacks executed by children with explosives hidden under their clothes or in baskets.
“The use of children, especially girls, as so-called suicide bombers has become a defining and alarming feature of this conflict. It’s basically turning the children against their own communities by strapping bombs around their bodies. Some young children probably do not know they are carrying explosives, which are often detonated remotely,” Duvillier said.
The Boko Haram terrorists has been using child suicide bombers after a regional offensive last year chased it from occupied territories in Nigeria. The child bombers approach helped the sect achieve huge number of casualties because most people before now do not usually consider children as a threat.
“It is not clear how Boko Haram coerces children to carry out the attacks, but those who have been raped are more psychologically damaged and vulnerable,” the U.S. army says.
Just recently, an international non-political organization, Amnesty International revealed that the Boko Haram terrorists group has so far abducted no fewer than 2,000 women and girls since 2014 mainly for cooks, sex slaves, fighters and suicide bombers.
The international organization recalled that it is two years now since over 270 female students of GGSS, Chibok, Borno state were kidnapped by the sect with many of them forced to convert to Islam and marry their abductors. UNICEF noted that many of the suicide bombers have been girls who are often thought less likely to arouse suspicion, although that may be changing now.
The organization said young boys kidnapped by the terrorists are mandated to attack their own families to show their loyalty to the sect.
“Although many children are being released from captivity as the military reclaims territory from Boko Haram, they often face stigma and rejection,” UNICEF said.
A 17-year-old Khadija, who lives in a camp for displaced people in Nigeria, told UNICEF that some women do beat her in the camp. Khadija and her baby born of rape escaped captivity during Nigerian army attack on Boko Haram terrorists camp. She said other displaced persons at the camp call her Boko Haram wife, and warn her not to come close to them.
Human rights watch in a statement issued on April 12, by Mausi Segun, a Nigeria researcher said: “Almost one million Nigerian children are missing out on education as Boko Haram has destroyed more than 900 schools and killed more than 600 teachers. Boko Haram is robbing an entire generation of children in northeast Nigeria of their education.”
In a related development, a group of United Nations and African human rights experts on Tuesday pleaded with the Boko Haram terrorists group to disclose the location of the kidnapped Chibok girls.
The group also tasked the Nigerian government to intensify its efforts to free all civilians kidnaped by Boko Haram.
“In the last two years, despite re-assurances from those at the highest level of the Nigerian government, the parents have not seen any concrete progress in locating and liberating their daughters. The lack of access to information increases the suffering of the abductees’ families through false hopes and frustrations,” the group said.
The group which revealed that it’s aware of the security implications of disclosing such information, said: “the grievances of the families and their most basic right to be kept informed about the plight of their loved ones has largely been ignored.”
The experts said Nigerian government should meet the parents’ demand for the designation of a focal point to liaise with the families of abducted persons and provide them with regular information and assistance.
The experts lauded the government for the ongoing programmes of safe schools initiative and the victims support fund, saying: “We are nonetheless seriously concerned by the absence of follow-up in the provision of care, recovery and reintegration measures for victims of sexual violence. The reintegration and rehabilitation of women and children are essential in the path towards lasting peace.
“Both the Nigerian authorities and the international community should make it clear that all the alleged crimes perpetrated by Boko Haram will be promptly, thoroughly and independently investigated, and those responsible, directly or as commanders or superiors, will be brought to justice.
“The declaration by the African Union making this year the African Year of Human Rights with a specific focus on women’s rights should be an additional call to action for African States and the international community to actively support Nigeria in its fight against Boko Haram and in addressing deep-rooted human rights violations such as gender-based violence and discrimination.”
The U.S. military said Boko Haram terrorists group in its six-year struggle to establish an Islamic caliphate in the northeastern part of Nigeria has gruesomely murdered no few than 15,000 innocent citizens. Many people have been abducted by this terrorists group since the past two years after the Chibok girls abduction that sparked international reaction.
In the past two years, many kidnapped persons have either managed to escape from their captors or freed by the Nigerian army. But some of these people that regained their freedom are left stranded without adequate care or repositioning, especially the young girls that were left pregnant after being raped by Boko Haram members. Victims of Boko Haram kidnap that were released should be provided with adequate care, recovery and reintegration services.
The report, entitled “Beyond Chibok”, said alarming trends have surfaced after Boko Haram started attacking countries neighbouring Nigeria.
“Between January 2014 and February 2016, Cameroon recorded the highest number of suicide attacks involving children (21), followed by Nigeria (17) and Chad (two),” it said.
During the same period, nearly one in five suicide bombers was a child and three quarters of them were girls.
Last year, children were used in one out of every two attacks in Cameroon, one out of eight in Chad, and one out of seven in Nigeria.
UNICEF said the number of Boko Haram suicide bombings had increased from 32 in 2014 to 151 last year.
“The calculated use of children who may have been coerced into carrying bombs, has created an atmosphere of fear and suspicion that has devastating consequences” for them, it said.
“As ‘suicide’ attacks involving children become commonplace, some communities are starting to see children as threats to their safety,” said Fontaine.
“This suspicion towards children can have destructive consequences; how can a community rebuild itself when it is casting out its own sisters, daughters and mothers?” he said.
An estimated 20,000 people have been killed since Boko Haram launched its campaign of violence in 2009 to carve out a hardline Islamic state in northeast Nigeria.
More than 2.6 million people have fled their homes since, but some of the internally displaced have recently begun returning after the Nigerian military captured swathes of territory back from the insurgents.
But UNICEF underscored that the repercussions were devastating for children caught up in the conflict.
It said nearly 1.3 million children have been displaced, about 1,800 schools are closed -– either damaged, looted, burned down or used as shelter by displaced people and more than 5,000 children reported either as unaccompanied or separated from their parents.