Fred Ezeh, Abuja
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said it welcomed the release of 24 children aged 12 to 17 from Nigerian Army administrative custody, after they were cleared of suspected link to armed insurgency groups.
The UN children body said the release of the children was an indication that Nigerian military operates with global best practices and strong regard to human right.
UNICEF Nigeria’s acting Representative, Pernille Ironside said, in a statement, that the recent release brings the number of children released this year to 207.
It promised to facilitate the rehabilitation and reuniting of the children with their families.
Ironside said, “The long journey towards reuniting the children with their families, communities and rekindling their life dreams has started. We must support these children to fulfil their hopes and aspirations.”
She promised to continue work with military and other government authorities to support the reintegration of children released from detention until there are no more children in administrative custody.
She disclosed that UNICEF had struck a deal with the Borno State government to provide the children with medical and psychosocial support, before they are reunited with their families and reintegrated into society.
Since 2017, UNICEF said it had supported the reintegration of more than 8,700 children previously associated with non-state actors in northeast Nigeria, helping trace their families and communities, and offering them psychosocial support, education, vocational training and informal apprenticeships and opportunities to improve their livelihoods.
Regrettably, Ironside said, the resources available to support children affected by conflict in north-east Nigeria are limited, with just under half of the required resources available.
“That had limited our ability to deliver an integrated package of protection, nutrition and health services for the survival and development of vulnerable children in conflict affected areas,” she said.