The United Nations says children are increasingly being exploited by all sides in the Boko Haram crisis in Nigeria, leaving thousands killed or maimed. A report by the Secretary-General on children and armed conflicts in Nigeria said at least 3,900 minors had been killed and 7,300 more maimed between 2013 and 2016. Thousands more have been forcibly recruited as fighters.
It added that hundreds of girls and women are also being used as sex slaves by the militants, with children from such relationships subjected to discrimination and stigma by their communities. “Suicide attacks became the second leading cause of child casualties, accounting for over 1,000 deaths and 2,100 injuries during the reporting period,” the document said.The report also accused the military authorities of detaining thousands of children they accused of being combatants for Boko Haram, although it admitted that some of those detained were gradually being freed after profiling.
“In 2016, more than 1,100 children were also deprived of their liberty because of their parent’s alleged association with Boko Haram. “On average, children were detained between three to four months, but 68 boys between the ages of 12 and 17 have been detained since September 2015,” according to the statement. The report also said situations where children are used for intelligence gathering should be discouraged.—Agencies