The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has called on the federal government to increase its commitment to ending the recruitment of children into armed groups.
UNICEF made this appeal in a statement issued to commemorate Red Hand Day.
According to the statement, Red Hand Day, marked annually on Feb. 12, is dedicated to raising awareness and strengthening efforts to end the recruitment and use of children in armed conflicts worldwide.
The statement issued by the UNICEF Representative in Nigeria, Cristian Munduate in Abuja said that there remains a lack of data on the number of children, especially girls recruited by armed actors in Nigeria.
“In Nigeria, there have been numerous reports of children being recruited and used by armed groups, with devastating consequences on their physical and psychological well-being.
“The Nigerian government, in collaboration with the international community, has made considerable progress in improving legal and policy frameworks to protect children associated with armed actors.
“In addition, UNICEF in partnership with other relevant stakeholders will continue to support the efforts of the government to invest in the prevention of child recruitment and use, facilitate and scale-up the reintegration of children, especially girls and including women that exit armed groups in the north-east,” she said.
The organization lauded the effort of the federal government for signing the Handover Protocol for children encountered in the course of armed conflict in Nigeria and the Lake Chad Basin Region.
It urged the federal government to go a step further in its efforts by endorsing the Paris commitments to protecting children from this act as well as the Paris principles and guidelines on children associated with armed forces or armed groups.
“This moment is also another opportunity for the Federal Government of Nigeria to endorse The Paris commitments to protect children from unlawful recruitment or use by armed forces or armed groups and the Paris principles and guidelines on children associated with armed forces or armed groups,” she said.