Nigerian children will today join their counterparts across the world to observe the Children’s Day.
The United Nations, UN, dedicates May 27 every year in honour of the world’ children.
Ahead of today’s event, which will be marked across the country, the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund, UNICEF, yesterday said that children bore the highest burden of violence in the North-East and called for an urgent action to end it.
In a statement it issued to commemorate 2015 Children’s Day in Abuja, UNICEF said: “As Nigeria commemorates this year’s Children’s Day, the choice of the theme of violence against children and the urgent need to stop it is apt and timely. It speaks eloquently to the current difficult circumstances facing children in Nigeria today, especially in the North-East. Children bear the biggest brunt of the insurgency. The conflict has severely constrained full scale provision of health services thereby threatening their right to survival.
“In Borno State, children have not been to school for more than one year,” it stated.
The world body said that the use of children as suicide bombers and the increase in the numbers of suicide bombings is an alarming and appalling trend in the perpetration of violence against children.
According to UNICEF, more children and women have been used as suicide bombers in North-East Nigeria in the first five months of this year than during the whole of last year.
UNICEF revealed that in 2014, 26 suicide attacks were recorded compared to 27 attacks as of May 2015.
“Children are not instigating these suicide attacks; they are used intentionally by adults in the most horrific way “They are first and foremost victims – not perpetrators.”
“Since July 2014, nine suicide incidents involving children aged between approximately seven and 17 years– all of them girls – have been reported. Their identity and exact ages have not been verified, as estimates are based primarily on eyewitness accounts.
“Many children have been separated from their families when they fled the violence, and have no one to look after them,” it said.
“Without the protection of their families, these children are at greater risk of exploitation by adults, and this can lead to involvement in criminal or armed group activities.”
UNICEF warned that the increasing use of children as suicide bombers could lead to children being perceived as potential threats, which would put all children associated with armed groups at risk of retaliation.
The statement disclosed that UNICEF and its partners are working with national authorities to reduce children’s vulnerability by identifying children who are without parents or relatives, and providing them with appropriate care.
It also said over 35,000 children have been reached with psychosocial support so they can cope with the acute distress they have suffered as a result of the conflict.

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