464 Child Soldiers Rescued From Armed Group in North East- UNICEF

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A total of 464  child soldiers, who were recruited into the Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF) to assist Nigeria soldiers in battling Boko Haram insurgents in North-East Nigeria have been released.

Disclosing the information on its official Twitter handle on Tuesday, UNICEF Nigeria said the 464 former child soldiers would be reunited with their family members starting from Tuesday.

The CJTF is an armed local group that has been supporting the Nigerian Army in the fight against insurgency in the North-eastern part of Nigeria since 2013 when it was established.

Thousands of children have been recruited into the local army group, a development unacceptable to the UNICEF and other pro-children organisations.

The United States children agency said it has so far this year, separated no fewer than 1,358 children from CJTF with support from European Union Humanitarian Aid.

In view of the risk of unspeakable violence they are exposed to, the agency said the use of children to fight during wars should stop.

“Although children are not responsible for wars, they are always the most affected,” it tweeted. “Recruitment and use of children in war expose them to unspeakable violence. It must stop,” said UNICEF.

A former child soldier that was separated from the armed vigilante group in 2018, whose name was not given said UNICEF trained him in skills to start a small business that has employed two people.  

“When I left the armed group CJTF, I was fully supported and given skills to start a small business. I have been out of school for long and could not go back,” said the former CJTF Boko Haram fighter now trained as entrepreneur by UNICEF.

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