A new report by the United Nations Children’s Fund has identified Borno, Adamawa, and Yobe as states with the highest cases of grave violations against children.
The report, which was released on Wednesday, revealed that there were 391 verified cases of violations against 306 children in Nigeria.
The UN body said the violations were attributed to the activities of Islamic State West African Province and other armed groups.
The report showed that many children suffer from more than one violation, increasing their vulnerability.
It read in part, “For example, abduction is often combined with or leads to other violations, particularly recruitment and the use and sexual violence.
“Children – especially girls – who have been abducted and/or associated with parties to conflict, are exposed to elevated risks of sexual violence, including rape, sexual exploitation and forced marriage.”
The report revealed that grave violations against children were committed by states and non-state actors, underscoring the importance of engagement with all parties to conflict, to meaningfully end and prevent violations against children.
The new report, titled, ‘25 years of children and armed conflict: Taking action to protect children in war,’ revealed that between 2005 and 2020 in West and Central Africa, more than 7,600 children have been verified as killed or maimed in situations of armed conflict; over 42,000 children have been verified as recruited and used by parties to conflict; at least 4,800 children have been verified as abducted by parties to conflict; parties to conflict have raped, forcibly married, sexually exploited, and committed other grave forms of sexual violence against at least 8,000 children.
The report also revealed that the United Nations verified more than 2,500 incidents of attacks against schools and hospitals and verified no fewer than 1,900 incidents of denial of humanitarian access for children since 2005 in West and Central Africa.
“In Nigeria, there were 391 verified cases of grave violations against 306 children. These violations mainly occurred in Borno, Adamawa, and Yobe states and were attributed to ISWAP and other armed groups.
“This is a 56 per cent increase in the number of grave violations against 208 children verified in 2020,” the report noted.
Between 2005 and 2020, according to the report, the UN verified over 266,000 grave violations against children committed by parties to conflict in more than 30 conflict situations across Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America.
In an interview with our correspondent, a Professor of Public Health, Tanimola Akande, attributed the high rate of violation of children to the crisis in the North East and called on the government to address the situation.
The professor also urged states to enact child’s rights laws.
Akande said, “Government needs to do as much as possible to end the war which is a precursor to violations of children.
“Those in the IDP camps should be taken care of by ensuring the provision of social amenities like drinking water, proper shelter and access to education.”
Also, a Consultant Family Physician at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, Ikeja, Dr. Olujimi Sodipo, also said the government should ensure the implementation of the Child Rights Act.
“The government needs to ensure the Child Rights Act is implemented in all the states in the country, and come up with policies that can protect the children against violation of their rights,” Sodipo said.
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