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UNICEF on Children Day, condemns use of kids as suicide bombers

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As Nigeria and the world commemorate this year’s Children’s Day celebration, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has expressed concern over the increasing use of children as suicide bombers in northern Nigeria.

UNICEF Representative in Nigeria, Jean Gough in a statement made available to The Guardian said that UNICEF’s report showed that more children and women have been used as suicide bombers in Northeast Nigeria in the first five months of this year than during the whole of last year.

“In 2014, 26 suicide attacks were recorded compared to 27 attacks as of May 2015. In at least three-quarters of these incidents, children and women were reportedly used to carry out the attacks. Girls and women have been used to detonate bombs or explosives belts at crowded locations, such as market places and bus stations.”

Meanwhile, senator, representing Lagos Central District, Senator Oluremi Tinubu has counselled that this year’s celebration calls for sober reflection because many children are still victims of insurgents who are brutally subjected to abuses, (physically, psychologically and sexually), with many becoming refugees in their own country.

In a statement made available to The Guardian yesterday, Tinubu added that while we all eagerly await the return of the Chibok girls abducted over a year ago, we must reflect on the gradually eroding societal values that call for the protection of children.

“Celebrations should not be restricted to fanfare but should serve as a wake-up call to parents and guardians on the need for protective parentage. It becomes important that we advocate protection for all children while warding off vices. Our children are our tomorrow, our linear contact, who deserves utmost protection,” the former Lagos first lady said.

Tinubu said, “It is universally recognised that all children are entitled to protection and education as enshrined in International Conventions, our own Constitution and the Child Rights Act passed by the National Assembly and some states of the federation. Our best efforts at survival and development will amount to nothing if children are continually abused, as it harms their lives, if such laws are not enforced.”

Also, to commemorate the day, Echoes of Women in Africa Initiative (ECOWA), a non-governmental women human rights organisation has organised a workshop with schoolboys on ending violence against women and girls.

The workshop, which held in Isheri, Lagos witnessed boys between ages 14 and 16 from different schools participate.

Delivering her paper on ‘Understanding Sexual Violence’ the Executive Director, ECOWA, Louisa Ono Eikhomun, she said, “universal Children’s Day is not simply a day to celebrate children for who they are, but to bring awareness to children around the globe that have succumbed to violence in forms of abuse, exploitation and discrimination. Children are used as labourers in some countries, immersed in armed conflict, living on the streets, suffering by differences be it religion, minority issues, or disabilities.

“May 27, 2015 a day to honour Nigeria’s children is coming at a dark period in Nigeria’s history with the emerging forms of violence against children. Abuses have now become grave and torturous from abduction to trafficking, rape, maiming, killing and disappearances.”

In a paper delivered by a final student of the University of Ibadan and a volunteer in ECOWA, Isaac Ajayi on ‘Youth and Drug Abuse’ stressed on the ills of hard drugs which includes heroin, cocaine, meth, marijuana, codeine as it affects social habits, leads to addiction and crime. He also advised the boys to shun cultism as it has led to the death of many undergraduates in the universities.

After the workshop, some of the participants who showed commitments and leadership qualities were nominated for an election as ECOWA Peace Ambassadors, while some others were elected by the participants to commence a peace club in Magodo, Isheri and Shangisha areas of Lagos State with the objective to mobilize, organize and educate young boys against violence and violence against women and girls.

The UNICEF chief continued, “Since July 2014, nine suicide incidents involving children aged between approximately seven and 17 years (all girls) have been reported. Their identity and exact ages have not been verified, as estimates are based primarily on eyewitness accounts.”

“An estimated 743,000 children have been uprooted by the conflict in the three most affected states in Nigeria; the number of unaccompanied and separated children could be as high as 10,000, according to UNICEF’s estimates.”



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