The Federal Government has signed a pact with the United Nations on the implementation to end the scourge of child terrorism in Nigeria.
The Minister of Women Affairs, Uju Ohanenye, praised the interagency collaboration that propelled this initiative and reaffirmed her ministry’s readiness for multi-sector implementation of the plan.
She also mentioned that the agreement takes into account matters pertaining to the child’s interest, such as their rescue, rehabilitation, and reunification with their family and society, in order to ensure the full and high-quality physical and psychological recovery of the children encountered during armed conflict in Nigeria and the Lake Chad Basin region.
She therefore urged UNICEF, the Nigerian UN systems, and other pertinent parties involved in the endorsement of the handover protocol to work towards accelerating plans towards achieving established goals, since the Women Affairs Ministry has already incorporated the handover protocol into this year’s budget as part of efforts to address issues that children face during armed conflict in a sustainable manner.
Ohanenye earlier recalled that on September 30, 2022, the Federal Government and the United Nations system in Nigeria, including UNICEF, signed the handover protocol agreement.
This agreement, according to her, outlined procedures for the identification and transfer of children connected to armed groups, care for the children while they are under the custody of Nigerian security agencies, and plans for the cross-border repatriation of non-native children.
She further stated that since the 2022 endorsement, notable progress has been made, as 153 children—60 girls and 93 boys—have been freed from the custody of Nigerian security services in the country’s northeast and transferred to the Borno State Ministry of Women Affairs.
In her presentation, the UN Country representative, Christian Munduate, expressed concerns that the children who are victims of armed conflicts also face grave human rights abuses and called for collective efforts to ensure proper reintegration and rehabilitation of about 4.9 million children in the North East among whom, 1.2 million are presently displaced internally.