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

Photogallery Pistorius Sentenced, Taken to Prison

Pistorius, convicted of culpable homicide in shooting death of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, will likely serve about 10 months of five-year sentence, before completing it under house arrest More

UN to Aid Central Africa in Polio Vaccinations

Synchronized vaccinations will be conducted after Cameroon reports a fifth case of the wild polio virus in its territory More

WHO: Ebola Vaccine May Be in Use by Jan.

WHO assistant director Dr. Marie Paule Kieny says clinical trials of Ebola vaccines are underway or planned in Europe, US and Africa More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
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 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.
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 US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid