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We’re not celebrating, as crimes were committed against Chibok girls, says UNICEF

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Nigerian soldiers stand outside the Government Girls Secondary School of Chibok in Borno State, Nigeria (AFP Photo/Stefan Heunis)

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Chief Field Officer in Maiduguri, Geoffrey Ijumba, has said that the agency is not celebrating but to mark three-year anniversary of the abduction of 297 Chibok school girls.

He said crimes had been committed against the girls and 312,000 children in Borno and Lake Chad region.

Ijumba spoke yesterday in Maiduguri while briefing journalists on crimes committed against children in the seven-year-old Boko Haram insurgency that displaced 3.6 million children and people from the region.

He said UNICEF is not celebrating because with the crimes already committed against children and humanity, there is nothing to celebrate here in Maiduguri three years after the school girls were abducted.

He said since the girls were abducted on April 14, 2014, Nigeria and three neighbouring countries of Chad, Cameroun and Niger have not known peace, as tens of thousands of children and their parents and guardians have suffered in the hands of insurgents.

He, therefore, urged the media to highlight the strength and resilience of the affected people in the seven-year Boko Haram insurgency, as the agency is providing education, nutrition and immunisation of children not only Borno State, but across the Lake Chad region.

A UNICEF report made available to The Guardian titled: “Silent Shame: Bringing out the voices of children caught in the Lake Chad crisis,” also said the number of children used in suicide attacks in the region has surged to 27 in the first quarter of 2017, compared to nine over the same period last year.

Ijumba said that the children are victims, not perpetrators, forcing or deceiving them into committing such horrific acts is reprehensible.

The report also highlighted the challenges that local authorities face with children who have been intercepted at checkpoints and taken into administrative custody for questioning and screening.


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Geoffrey IjumbaUNICEF

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