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Nearly 900 children recruited for anti-Boko Haram military efforts in Nigeria released

By KASSIDY VAVRA | New York Daily News | Published: May 11, 2019

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(Tribune News Service) — Nearly 900 children who were recruited to military forces fighting against Boko Haram in Nigeria were released Friday, UNICEF announced.

The Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF) in Maiduguri, north-east Nigeria, released 894 children, including 106 girls.

Formed in 2013, the CJTF was created with the aim of preventing attacks in the community.

Since the ongoing conflict began in north-east Nigeria, more than 3,500 children have been recruited between 2013 and 2017. The CJTF signed a plan committing to not use or recruit children. Since the plan was put in place, 1,727 children and young people have been released, and no new children have been recruited.

The Council on Foreign Relations noted that when it was formed, many joined the CJTF ranks to avenge their family members, who died at the hands of Boko Haram members.

Non-state armed groups have recruited children and used them for combat and non-combat forces, UNICEF said. Girls in the forces are raped, forced to marry, and others are gravely violated.

"Some of the girls become pregnant in captivity and give birth without any medical care or attention," the statement from UNICEF said.

Friday, nearly 900 children were released from the CJTF.

"Children of north-east Nigeria have borne the brunt of this conflict. They have been used by armed groups in combatant and non-combatant roles and witnessed death, killing and violence. This participation in the conflict has had serious implications for their physical and emotional well-being," Mohamed Fall, representative of UNICEF in Nigeria and the co-chair of United Nations Country Task Force on Monitoring and Reporting on Grave Child Rights Violations said in a statement.

Those released Friday will have access to reintegration programs that will help them return to civilian life and integrate peace in Nigeria.

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