Abuja - A United Nations children's rights envoy has appealed for the international community to intervene and ensure minors in Nigeria and the region enjoyed peace and stability.
“It is up to us to be their voice and give them back the life they deserve,” said Leila Zerrougui, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict.
She spoke as the world marked two years since the Boko Haram abducted 276 girls in a government school in Chibok, Borno State, northeast of Nigeria.
Fifty-seven escaped hours later but what happened to the remaining girls has been unknown.
In the past two years, the conflict has continued to grow and Boko Haram’s activities have spilled over into the neighbouring countries of Cameroon, Chad and Niger. More children have been abducted.
Also read: Mothers identify 7 Chibok schoolgirls in new Boko Haram video
Hundreds of boys and girls have been killed, maimed and recruited by Boko Haram.
In what has become one of the armed group’s most gruesome tactics, women and children, girls in particular, have been forced to serve as suicide bombers in crowded markets and public places, killing many civilians.
“These children yearn for the safety of their families, but going back to their communities can mean persecution and mistrust,” Zerrougui said.
“Girls who come back as young mothers face even greater challenges. These traumatized children require assistance and our support to fight stigma and rejection.”
The conflict’s impact on education has been no less profound. Over 1 500 schools in northeastern Nigeria have been destroyed and the teachers are gone. Hundreds of thousands of children are missing out on their education.
“It is our collective responsibility to keep shining a spotlight on these children in need and ensure they have a future in which they can overcome these challenges,” Zerrougui said.
“We cannot tolerate the abduction of children. We cannot forget the girls from Chibok,” the UN envoy said.
The Boko Haram crisis has claimed the lives of over 20 000 people and displaced more than 2 million.
- CAJ News