Tenfold increase in Boko Haram suicide attacks using children

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Over 2.3m displaced by violence in Nigeria, Niger, Chad & Cameroon – more than half children. Photo: UNICEF/UNO15887/Bahaji

The number of child suicide bombers coerced into acting for the West Africa-based Boko Haram terrorists has risen at least tenfold in the last year, the UN said Tuesday.

Announcing the news, the UN Children's Fund UNICEF said that there were 44 such attacks in 2015 in Cameroon and Nigeria, Chad and Niger.

Dianne Penn reports.

According to UNICEF, more than three-quarters of the children involved in suicide attacks were girls.

The tactic may reflect the pressure Boko Haram terrorists are under from the Nigerian military, the UN agency's Manuel Fontaine said.

"These children should be really considered as victims first and not perpetrators, in many cases they might be unaware that they are even carrying a bomb, in most cases they have been indoctrinated and they are too young to really understand the consequences."

UNICEF's announcement comes almost exactly two years after the abduction of more than 200 schoolgirls in Chibok in north-east Nigeria, where government forces have been fighting Boko Haram separatists for six years.

The whereabouts of the schoolgirls are still unknown and UNICEF says that 2,000 more children have been kidnapped since they disappeared.

The conflict has caused massive displacement and 2.5 million people are now in a food security crisis, according to UN humanitarian aid agency, OCHA.

Dianne Penn, United Nations

Duration: 1’01″

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