UN: How Boko Haram, Military Killed, Maimed Hundreds of Children

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  • 1,813 Nigerians killed since January, says Amnesty International

Martins Ifijeh

About 881 children were either killed or maimed by the Boko Haram terror group and Nigerian security forces in 2017, the United Nations (UN) has said.

This is coming as Amnesty International (AI), Thursday revealed that at least 1,813 persons have been murdered in attacks across 17 states since January 2018, more than double of those killed in 2017.

Of this number reported by the UN, the unfortunate bombing of an internally displaced persons (IDPs) camp in Rann, Borno State, by the Nigerian military caused the death or maiming of 235 children, the UN added.

Apart from the 235 killed or maimed in the Rann bombing, the military also killed or maimed 26 children suspected to be carrying improvised explosive devices in 2017.

These were parts of the annual report of the Secretary General on Children and Armed Conflict.
The report covered Nigeria, Afghanistan, India, the Philippines, Syria and Yemen.

The content of the report was presented by Virginia Gamba, the UN’s Expert on Children and Armed Conflict, and reported by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).

The Rann victims were part of the more than 10,000 children killed or maimed in conflicts in 2017, in the named countries; while more than 8,000 youngsters were recruited or used as combatants.

Gamba, according to Premium Times, said 66 parties to the conflict were listed in 2018 – three more than in the 2016 report – with nine government forces and 57 armed groups named.

“Among the most significant violations registered in 2017 were killing and maiming, recruitment and use and attacks on schools and hospitals, all of which registered a rise in comparison to the previous year,” Gamba said.

The UN envoy said the reduction 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 (CJTP) action plan, signed in 2017.

According to her, the UN verified 881 children out of which 570 were killed and 311 maimed in Nigeria, attributing 620 of the casualties to Boko Haram and 261 to Nigerian security forces.
With regard to the security forces, 235 casualties were caused by the unfortunate aerial bombardments on Rann in 2017, while 26 casualties were suspected to be carrying improvised explosive devices.

While explaining details of its latest report, Gamba said Boko Haram was to blame for the almost half of the 881 children killed in violence in the North-east.

“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).

“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,” he said.

In a related development, Amnesty International, yesterday revealed that at least 1,813 persons has been murdered in attacks across 17 states since January 2018, more than double of those killed in 2017.

The group said the failure of federal government to hold murderers to account is encouraging them and fueling rising insecurity across the country.

Also, the Human Rights Watch (HRW) has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to step up investigations and hold killers of over 100 persons in Plateau State accountable.

In a statement signed by its Media Officer, Isa Sanusi, Amnesty International stated that the killings were caused by the farmers-herders conflict, communal clashes, Boko Haram attacks and banditry.

“We are gravely concerned about the rising spate of killings across the country, especially the communal clashes between farmers and herders and attacks by bandits across at least 17 states,” the statement quoted the Director of Amnesty International Nigeria, Osai Ojigho, as saying.”

Amnesty International said it was currently investigating the rising insecurity that has resulted in the increase in killings across Nigeria.

It said its investigations showed “worrying details of how frequently the security forces failed to protect villagers.”

AI further stated that in all the cases it investigated, the attackers, usually arrived in their hundreds, spend hours killing people and setting houses on fire and then disappeared without a trace.

The group also expressed concern about the impact of the killings on farming, “especially with the affected villages and farmlands deserted because people fear going back to their homes.

“We are at the peak of farming season, and communities affected by this wave of violence are largely agrarian. But because of fear of attacks they have either been displaced or unable to cultivate their farms, therefore their major source of food and income threatened by the attacks,” Ojigho said.