More than 2,000 children have been cleared of having any links to the Boko Haram sect; as well as non-state armed groups in Nigeria’s North East since 2016.
The United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, confirmed this development on Wednesday.
A total of 2,013 children were cleared of “alleged connections with an armed group,” UNICEF’s Chief of Field Office in Borno State; Phuong Nguyen, said at a meeting with local government officials. Most of the children were arrested by the military on suspicion of having links to the Boko Haram terror group.
She disclosed that another 2,188 children conscripted by the state-backed vigilante group; the Civilian Joint Task (CJTF) were also freed. Nguyen said the intervention was funded and supported by the European Union to protect children’s rights.
Children that fled their homes and schools in the wake of terror attacks in Nigeria account for about one-third of the three million civilians displaced since 2009 when the violence began.
Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for most of the attacks and bombings. The jihadist sect has prosecuted a decade-long insurgency against the Nigerian government.