AS leaders from around the world gather in Paris on the anniversary of the 10th anniversary of Paris Commitments to end the use of children in conflict, the United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, on Tuesday, February 21, disclosed that Boko Haram, an Islamic terrorists group, recruited nearly 2000 boys and girls to be used in armed conflict in 2016 alone.
The revelation came as the UNICEF revealed that up to 65,000 children had been released from armed forces and armed groups in the last 10 years.
More than 20,000 of them were in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, nearly 9,000 in the Central African Republic, and over 1,600 children in Chad, estimates show.
“Ten years ago the world made a commitment to the children of war and matched it with action – action that has helped give 65,000 children a new chance for a better life,” Anthony Lake, UNICEF executive director, said. “But today’s meeting is not only about looking back at what has been accomplished — but looking forward to the work that remains to be done to support the children of war.”
Exact data on the number of children used and recruited in armed conflict are difficult to confirm because of the unlawful nature of child recruitment.
However, the UNICEF estimates that tens of thousands of boys and girls under the age of 18 are used in conflicts worldwide.
It said since 2013, an estimated 17,000 children had been recruited in South Sudan and up to 10,000 were recruited in the Central African Republic.
In Nigeria and neighbouring countries, data verified by the United Nations and its partners indicate that nearly 2,000 children were recruited by Boko Haram in 2016 alone.
In Yemen, the UN has documented nearly 1,500 cases of child recruitment since the conflict escalated in March 2015.
The number of countries that have endorsed the Paris Commitments nearly doubled in 10 years, from 58 countries in 2007 to 105 at present, signaling an increasing global commitment to end the use of children in conflict.
Estimates show that of the 65,000 children who have been released in the past 10 years, more than 20,000 were in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, nearly 9,000 in the Central African Republic, and over 1,600 children in Chad.
The Paris International Ministerial Conference on the Protection of Children in Armed Conflicts will look at ways to build on this momentum. These include calling for the unconditional release of all children, without exception, and putting an end to child recruitment; increased resources to help reintegrate and educate children who have been released; and urgent action to protect internally displaced children, child refugees and migrants.
“As long as children are still affected by the fighting, we cannot give up the fight for the children,” Lake said.
— Feb 21, 2017 @ 17:25 GMT