BY PRUDENCE IJAH, ABUJA
The United Nation Children Fund ( UNICEF) says it has welcomed the release of 24 children aged 12 to 17 from Nigerian Army administrative custody after they were cleared of suspected ties with armed groups. This brings the number of children released this year to 207.
In a statement, UNICEF Nigeria acting Representative Pernille Ironside said “For these children, the long journey towards reuniting with their families, reintegrating with their communities and fulfilling their dreams starts today. She called for support of the children to fulfil their hopes and aspirations.
Ironside pledeged that “UNICEF will continue to work with military and the authorities to support the reintegration of all children released, until there are no more children in administrative custody.”
The statement added that as part of these efforts, UNICEF works with the Borno State Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development and partners to provide the children with medical attention and psychosocial support, before the process begins of reuniting them with their families and reintegrating them into society.
Since 2017, UNICEF has supported the social and economic reintegration of more than 8,700 children previously associated with non-state actors in north-east Nigeria, helping trace their families, returning them to their communities, and offering them psychosocial support, education, vocational training and informal apprenticeships, and opportunities to improve their livelihoods.
According to the statement, the resources available to support children affected by the conflict in north-east Nigeria are limited, with just under half of the required resources available, limiting UNICEF’s ability to deliver an integrated package of protection, WASH, nutrition and health services for the survival and development of vulnerable children in conflict affected areas.