News / Africa

Nigerian Conflict Takes Toll on Children

Civilians who fled their homes following an attacked by Islamist militants in Bama, take refuge at a School in Maiduguri, Nigeria, Wednesday, Sept. 3, 2014. A Nigerian senator says thousands of people are fleeing a northeastern city amid conflicting reports that it has been seized by Boko Haram Islamic militants. Sen. Ali Ndume said Tuesday the military is claiming it has repelled the insurgents in fierce fighting for the city of Bama but the stream of refugees indicates otherwise. (AP Photo/Jossy Ola)
Civilians who fled their homes following an attacked by Islamist militants in Bama, take refuge at a School in Maiduguri, Nigeria, Wednesday, Sept. 3, 2014. A Nigerian senator says thousands of people are fleeing a northeastern city amid conflicting reports that it has been seized by Boko Haram Islamic militants. Sen. Ali Ndume said Tuesday the military is claiming it has repelled the insurgents in fierce fighting for the city of Bama but the stream of refugees indicates otherwise. (AP Photo/Jossy Ola)

Multimedia

Audio
  • Listen to De Capua report on conflict children in Nigeria

Joe DeCapua

Children are bearing the brunt of much of the violence in northeastern Nigeria – including killings, rapes, abductions and attacks on schools. A new report blamed Boko Haram militants, Nigerian security forces and self-defense militias.

Listen to De Capua report on conflict children in Nigeria
Listen to De Capua report on conflict children in Nigeriai
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X

The group - Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict --has released the report called Who Will Care for Us? – Grave Violations in Northeastern Nigeria. It’s based on a six-week research mission earlier this year.

Watchlist research officer Janine Morna, author of the report, said, “Since 2009, the level of violence and the scale of violations against children in northeastern Nigeria have worsened. The conflict has displaced about 650,000 people – primarily women and children – and affected millions of others. Of particular concern to Watchlist is the recruitment and use of children by Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati wal-Jihad, commonly known as Boko Haram, as well as armed self-defense militia who operate in the northeast.”

Morna said the children carry out surveillance and sometimes take part in attacks.

“Children are increasingly in the line of fire. Interviewees told Watchlist that they had seen children as young as 14-years-old working alongside Boko Haram to carry ammunition, set houses alight. They’d also seen children as young as 13-years-old among civilian self-defense militia.”

Boko Haram, she said, abducts boys and girls. It forces boys to join their ranks or face death.

“Some times the group pressures families to have their children join Boko Haram. And in one case documented by Watchlist a 13-yearold who refused to join had two of his family members killed. In other cases, the group incentivizes disaffected, unemployed youth in Borno State and other areas of the northeast to join for money,” she said.

The report said that girls are not immune from taking part in the bloodshed.

“In recent months, there’s been a disturbing uptick in the participation of girls in attacks by Boko Haram. A young woman formerly abducted by the group told Watchlist of how she was made to raid hospitals during attacks, carry ammunition and in one case even slaughter somebody, who had been brought back to the camp. In July this year, reports emerged of a 10-year-old girl, who had been detained by authorities and was suspected to be acting under the direction of Boko Haram,” said Morna.

Christian children, the report said, are often forced to convert to Islam by Boko Haram.

The Watchlist report also said the rise in child recruitment by self-defense militias is not as widely reported. The militias have increased due to security gaps left unfilled by the military. The report said the “most notorious” of these is the Civilian Joint Task Force that was formed in Borno State. It is now believed to be made-up of a number of different groups.

Morna said, “Initially, new recruits joined to avenge the deaths of family members, who had been killed at the hands of Boko Haram. However, as the group has come under increasing fire from Boko Haram, villages have described a process of recruitment where representatives from the civilian self-defense militia negotiate with chiefs of different villages for new members. This includes any able bodied member and children as young as 13-years-old. One youth told Watchlist if you refuse to join you are killed.”

Morna added that the militias have been praised by Nigeria’s president and received support from the military and the Borno State government. She said current government policy is to detain children – sometimes incommunicado -- who are suspected of being soldiers.

Due to the threat to children, many schools in the northeast have been closed, affecting hundreds of thousands of children. Parents have also taken to hiding their children.

The Watchlist report called on the Nigerian government to take action to end the recruitment of child soldiers and to care for those who have been. It also recommends collecting evidence of violations and abuses.

Saudatu Mahdi, of the Bring Back Our Girls Campaign, says of the 276 girls abducted by Boko Haram in Chibok earlier this year only 57 have escaped. Of the rest none has been rescued. 

You May Like

Turkey's Controversial Reform Bill Giving Investors Jitters

Homeland security reform bill will give police new powers in search, seizure, detention and arrests, while restricting the rights of suspects, their attorneys More

Audio Slideshow In Kenyan Prison, Good Grades Are Path to Freedom

Some inmates who get high marks could see their sentences commuted to non-custodial status More

'Rumble in the Jungle' Turns 40

'The Champ' knocked Foreman out to regain crown he had lost 7 years earlier when US government accused him of draft-dodging and boxing officials revoked his license More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisiai
X
Henry Ridgwell
October 30, 2014 11:39 PM
Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid