Use of children as human bombs on the rise in Nigeria

Hands of a 17 years old girls forced to live with Boko Haram for two years Hands of a 17 years old girls forced to live with Boko Haram for two years UNICEF / Abubakar 2017

23 August 2017
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has denounced an alarming increase in the use of children as human bombs in Nigeria.

Since the beginning of 2017, as of August, 83 children had been used in suicide attacks  in northeast Nigeria. The extremist group Boko Haram,  based in this part of the country, has occasionally claimed responsibility for these attacks. According to UNICEF’s spokesperson Marixie Mercado, the number of children used in this way in 2017 is already four times higher than it was in the whole of 2016. Most of the 83 children were under 15 years old: 55 of them were girls, and 27 boys. The sex of one baby was impossible to determine.

In Nigeria, children are the main victims of the ongoing conflict between Boko Haram and the Nigerian government, as they have been repeatedly abducted and forced to become militants, sexual slaves or human bombs by the terrorist group. As a consequence, young boys and girls have increasingly  been met with fear and suspicion by local communities, making their social reintegration difficult. In particular, children released, rescued or escaped from Boko Haram are often left out and rejected by even their own families.

In order to stop this phenomenon, UNICEF is working with families and communities to support the reconciliation with children previously linked to Boko Haram. As of July 2017, the UN agency has helped more than 3,000 children and 1,200 women socially and economically reintegrate into their community.  


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