Military Hands Over 28 Children Associated With Armed Group to BOSG,UNICEF For deradicalization , Rehabilitation

By Ahmed Abu, The Nigerian Voice, Maiduguri

The Nigerian Military has again handed over 28 children associated with armed group that were in it's custody to Borno state government and United Nations Children Education Fund UNICEF for Deradicalizatiion, rehabilitation and reintegration.

The Theater Commander , Operation Lafiya Dole, Theater Command headquarters maimalari cantonment Maiduguri, Major General Abba Dikko while handing over the children Thursday said following the resolution of the Nigerien military to comply with the international standard on Hunan Rights and other humanitarian laws and in abiding by the rules, 28 children or minors associated with armed group were screened and cleared for release to the government for rehabilitation and reintegration after Deradicalizatiion.

He added that the children were mostly minors and vulnerables while pledging to continue to show empathy, protect and cater for the children and communities during military operations based on it's rules of engagement.

Dikko however assured that the military will further ensure that people return back to their localities to resettle and also engage in their occupations while the Children go to school to learn and become educated.

The 28 children comprised of 24 males and 4 females with the oldest among them being 17 years and the youngest among them being 13 years.

The theater commander pointed out that it was high time people should embrace peace, go to farm and be resilient while being impressed with the large size of farmlands cultivated across the north east by the returned IDPs and residents of host communities with the return of relative peace and agricultural activities.

He noted that the children were actually thoroughly screened having passed through processes of interrogation and counselling by the military and other security agencies as the law required while urging the people to resist all acts of temptation and intimidation from unscrupulous elements in the society who were out to deter the efforts of the military in restoration of peace and protection of integrity of the country.

General Dikko said people should reject all kinds of activities that will undermine or threaten the efforts of the military in the peace restoration process for the people of the state and north east at large while appealing to the children to be discipline, obedient, dedicated and committed to the Deradicalizatiion and rehabilitation process as well as the psychological training that will be extended to them by the UNICEF and BOSG.

After signing the MOU between the UNICEF, BOSG and Nigerian Arny, the UNICEF Nigeria Borno Chief of Field Office Maiduguri, Mr. Geoffrey Ijumba said in the last 2 months 23 children were released to the Borno State Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development to rehabilitate and reintegrate with their families and communities.

Today, another 28 children were released in commitment of the military adhering with the international humanitarian law and ensuring protection of the innocent children caught up in the Boko haram conflict as yet another demonstration to its commitment by the Nigerian military in protecting the rights and well being of conflict affected children of the north east.

Ijumba assured that UNICEF will continue to work with the military and other authorities to support the reintegration of all children released until there are no more children in protective custody, stressing that, UNICEF remained committed to working with the Borno State Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development and partners to provide all children released with medical attention and psychological support before the process of reuniting them with their families and reintegrating them into the society begins.

Geoffrey disclosed that out of the 338 children released by rhe military this year, 2018, 175 are girls and 268 are boys and more than 385 children have been reunited with their families and are on the road to starting a better life while noting that UNICEF will continue to support the ministry to identify alternative care arrangements for the children who can not return home because of difficulties in family tracing or projection concerns.

He added that UNICEF has ensued that all who belonged to their families are at home while their health, protection and education has continued to be supported by UNICEF by way of investing in the future of the societies towards attainting a sustainable tomorrow.

The Permanent Secretary, Borno state ministry of women affairs and social development, Hajiya Hauwa Mai Musa who represented the Borno state Government thanked the Nigerian military for its efforts and sacrifices as well as the UNICEF for its support to the. Children and other vulnerables in the society.

She assured that government will continue to support and cater for the children with all the basic needs and facilities including toiletries, sanitaries, food , shelter, water supply and recreational facilities among others while appreciating the Nigerian military and UNICEF for coming to the aid of the children who are the future leaders of the country.