The United Nations has said 881 children died in Nigeria in 2017, half of which resulted from suicide, including those used as “human bombs” by Boko Haram terrorists.
The UN in a report on Thursday disclosed that over 1,900 children were detained because of their or their parents’ alleged association with the Islamist sect.
The world body stated this in the 2017 edition of its annual Children and Armed Conflict Report, which covered conflicts in 20 countries, including Nigeria, Afghanistan, India, the Philippines, Syria and Yemen.
UN’s expert on Children and Armed Conflict, Virginia Gamba, said the global body verified 881 children, out of which 570 were killed and 311 maimed in Nigeria.
She attributed 620 of the casualties to Boko Haram and 261 to the Nigerian security forces.
The expert said Boko Haram has continued to force civilians, including children, to perpetrate suicide attacks.
She said the total number of verified cases of the recruitment and use of children decreased by almost 50 percent from 2,122 in 2016 to 1,092 in 2017 in Nigeria.
The UN envoy said the decrease might be attributed to the loss of territory by Boko Haram, the displacement of civilians from areas controlled by the group and the Civilian Joint Task Force action plan, signed in 2017.
With regard to the security forces, she stated that 235 casualties were caused by the unfortunate aerial bombardments on Rann in 2017, while 26 casualties were suspected to be carrying improvised explosive devices.
“Almost half of all casualties, 411 resulted from suicide attacks perpetrated by Boko Haram including the use of children as carriers of person-borne improvised explosive devices, the report said.
It noted, “A worrying trend is the continued use of children by Boko Haram as carriers of person-borne improvised explosive devices, with 146 cases documented in Nigeria.
“The UN verified 45 incidents of rape and other forms of sexual violence, affecting 131 children, including nine boys and 125 cases – nine boys and 116 girls – were attributed to Boko Haram. All child victims attributed to Boko Haram were abducted, raped or forcibly married to members of the group.”
The report also said the UN verified four attacks on schools and one attack on a hospital in Nigeria attributed to Boko Haram.
It noted that 82 of the Chibok schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram in April 2014 were released as a result of internationally supported negotiations between Boko Haram and the Nigerian government, while 112 remained unaccounted for.
Gamba encouraged the government to end the use of schools for military purposes, in line with the commitments in the Safe Schools Declaration, and to provide a protective educational environment for children in particular for girls.
“The continued number of violations by Boko Haram remains gravely disturbing, in particular, the use of children as carriers of person-borne improvised explosive devices and the number of abductions,” she said.
She expressed concern for the significant increase in the number of children killed and maimed and cases of sexual violence.