UN, CJTT partner on child soldiers

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Kayode Idowu, Maiduguri

The United Nations and the Civilian Joint Task Force on Friday in Maiduguri, Borno State, signed an action plan to end and prevent the recruitment and use of children in the armed conflict in the North-East.

The CJTF, a group made up of volunteers, has been accused alongside the Boko Haram sect, of recruiting children in the ongoing insurgency in the North-East.

The new agreement was signed under the supervision of the Borno State Deputy Governor, Alhaji Usman Durkwa, in Maiduguri, the capital.

In a statement, the UN said that the action plan was highly commendable.

It read, “In 2016, the CJTF was listed in the annexes of the Secretary-General’s Annual Report for Children and Armed Conflict for the recruitment and use of children. Following the listing, UNICEF, in its role as Co-chair of the United Nations Country Task Force for the Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism on grave violations against children, has been working with the group and Nigerian authorities to develop the action plan signed.

“Through this, the CJTF is committed to putting in place a number of measures to end and prevent child recruitment and use. Identifying and releasing all children within the group’s ranks and instructing its members not to recruit or use children in the future are examples of such measures.

“UNICEF and partners will support the Nigerian authorities in providing reintegration services to all children released under the Action Plan.”

Also reacting to the development, UNICEF Representative in Nigeria, Mohamed Fall, said, “We have seen too many childhoods destroyed by the crisis in the North-East. This agreement is an important milestone for child protection and paves the way for a brighter future for children caught up in the conflict.”

Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Virginia Gamba, said, “I congratulate the CJTF and the UN in Nigeria for the signature of this action plan, which brings hope for boys and girls deeply affected by the conflict in the North-East.

“Now that the action plan has been signed, I urge the CJTF to fully implement it in order to end and prevent the recruitment and use of children once and for all. The UN is ready to support the CJTF in this process.”

The action plan was co-signed by the President of the CJTF, Mr. Lawan Jaffar, and the UNICEF Country Representative on behalf of the UN Country Task Force.

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