UNICEF said the removal of the Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF) from the UN Secretary-General’s report on Children and Armed Conflict is a positive move for children protection.
In his last report, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres attributed the delisting to the CJTF’s commitment to completing an Action Plan negotiated with the UN Country Task Force on Monitoring and Reporting (CTFMR) in 2017 to halt child recruitment and use.
The CJTF was established in 2013 to help the Nigerian military in protecting communities from Boko Haram attacks. The CJTF has expanded in size and influence since then.
Recruiting and using children was addressed in the annexes of the Secretary-General’s Annual Report on Children and Armed Conflict in 2016.
The CJTF has now released over 2,000 children, many of whom are in school and receiving UNICEF psychosocial help. Les enfants in north-east Nigeria have suffered greatly.
Between 2013 and 2020, at least 3,500 children were enlisted as fighters. Girls and boys have used suicide bombers, spies, laborers, chefs, messengers, even wives.
Armed groups frequently expose girls to gender-based violence, including rape.
Children used as soldiers are at risk of death or injury during military training, initiation rites, and combat.
Witnessing or participating in torture and murder causes long-term physical and mental health effects.
They are also denied access to education, nourishment, and safe living conditions, among other rights violations.
Phuong T. Nguyen said, “This is a welcome development for the children of Nigeria,” said Phuong T. Nguyen, UNICEF Chief of Maiduguri Field Office. “But we must remember that this is the first step in a long journey. I urge the leadership of the CJTF to establish child protection units across its offices to prevent future recruitment and use of children and consistently model its agreement to not use children for any kind of role.”
“Recruiting children into armed groups steals their innocence and the protection they need. We should not forget – deploying children as soldiers imperils peace and perpetuates the cycle of generational violence. I call on other armed groups and parties to the conflict to immediately stop the recruitment of children and safely reintegrate them with their families and communities, where they belong’’.