By Hassan Zaggi
The release of 183 children including 5 girls and 175 boys by the Nigeria Army in Maiduguri, suspected to have links with the dreaded Boko Haram group has attracted the commendation of the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF).
In a statement yesterday, the UN body noted that the clearing of the children between the ages of 7-18 of having ties with the Boko Haram insurgents was highly commendable as both the boys and the girls were first and foremost victims of the conflict.
UNICEF therefore vowed to partner with the Borno State government to support the children.
UNICEF Representative in Nigeria, Mohamed Fall, in the statement said: “These 8 girls and 175 boys are first and foremost victims of the ongoing conflict and their release is an important step on their long road to recovery.
“We will be working with the Borno State Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development and partners to provide the children with all the assistance they need.
“I also want to commend the action taken by the military and the authorities, it demonstrates a clear commitment to better protect children affected by the conflict.”
Thee UNICEF Chief noted that the children having been held in administrative custody, they will receive medical attention and psychosocial support before the process of reuniting them with their families and reintegrating them into society begins.
The statement recalled that since 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.