United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes, (UNODC), says at least 8,000 children were recruited by Boko Haram and Islamic State in West Africa (ISWAP) since the terrorist groups began onslaughts in Nigeria.
In a statement by Sylvester Tunde Atere, National Project Officer, Outreach and Communications of UNODC, the children were used as combatants and non-combatants missions.
They also raped and forced girls to marry as well as committing other grave violations.
He said: “Recruitment and exploitation have a long-lasting impact on children’s lives. Today, rehabilitating and reintegrating these children poses significant challenges, not only in view of their number, but also due to the intense and lasting traumatic effects.
“In June, UNODC organised a consultative workshop to address the situation of children recruited and exploited by terrorist groups under the EU-Nigeria-UNODC-CTED Partnership Project.
“UNODC gathered all relevant stakeholders in Abuja, including representatives from the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), Federal Ministry of Justice, Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development as well as a representative of the State Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states.
“Others are Federal High Court, National Human Rights Commission, Legal Aid Council of Nigeria, the Presidential Committee on the Northeast Initiative, prosecutors, social workers, and civil society organisations, as well as UNICEF, OHCHR, IOM. The Chief Judges of Borno and Yobe State High Courts were also in attendance.”
In 2014, the abduction of 276 girls from their school in Chibok attracted international attention, unmasking the brutality and disregard these groups hold against children.
A 2017 report by UNICEF found that the use of children to carry out suicide attacks had become a defining feature of the conflict.