UNICEF reports rise in use of child "human bombs" in northeast Nigeria

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An 8-year-old displaced girl in Banki, Borno state, Nigeria, with her 5-year-old brother. Photo: OCHA/Yasmina Guerda

More than 80 children have been used as so-called "human bombs" in northeast Nigeria so far this year, the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) has reported.

The agency is sounding the alarm as the figure is already four times higher than it was for all of 2016, which the agency described as "appalling."

Ana Carmo reports.

Of the 83 child human bombs deployed so far this year in northeast Nigeria, 55 were girls, mostly under 15 years old.

Twenty-seven were boys and one was an infant, strapped to a girl.

UNICEF said the Boko Haram armed group has sometimes claimed responsibility for these attacks, which target the civilian population.

The militants are behind an insurgency which has displaced millions of people in four countries around Lake Chad.

UNICEF decried the use of child human bombs as an "atrocity," reminding that these children are, above all, victims and not perpetrators.

Marixie Mercado is an agency spokesperson in Geneva.

"The use of children in such attacks has had a further impact of creating suspicion and fear of children who have been released, rescued or escaped from Boko Haram. As a result, many children who have managed to get away from captivity face rejection when they try to reintegrate into their communities, which compounds their suffering."

UNICEF recalled that northeast Nigeria is among four countries and regions facing looming famine, with up to 450,000 children at risk of severe acute malnutrition this year.

The UN agency is providing psychosocial support for children who have been held by Boko Haram in addition to working with families and communities to accept these children when they return. 

Ana Carmo, United Nations.

Duration: 1’21″

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