LAGOS: THE Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict said children growing up in the country’s northeast are in desperate need of protection from relentless violence.
Leila Zerrougui, said this as she concluded a weeklong visit in Nigeria. The Special Representative traveled to Nigeria to assess the conflict’s impact on children. She met the country’s federal authorities, the authorities of Adamawa State, the United Nations, the diplomatic community, civil society and other partners during her trip.
In Yola, the Special Representative met with displaced people from the conflict-affected areas, including children and women.
“I witnessed people’s shock and disbelief at the devastation suffered by their communities. I saw trauma in children’s eyes,” she said.
“The scale of the suffering is way beyond what I anticipated to find. The people I met demand and deserve urgent protection.”
In northern Nigeria, over 900 000 people, she said, many of them women and children, had fled their homes. More than 300 schools have been severely damaged or destroyed, hundreds of children have been killed, injured or abducted from their homes and schools.
Throughout 2014, the armed conflict in north-eastern Nigeria was one of the world’s deadliest for children. The Special Representative is also concerned by reports of sexual violence against girls, including forced marriages and rapes.
She said the beginning of 2015 brought again relentless violence with the appalling suicide bombing committed by a girl allegedly as young as ten, killing several people in a market in Maiduguri, termed as Boko Haram’s deadliest attack in the country.
Meanwhile, the Special Representative also met with the representatives of the movement “Bring Back our Girls” and remains deeply concerned by the fate of the more than 200 school girls abducted in Chibok in April 2014. She said she was equally concerned by the fate of all children abducted by Boko Haram.
“The United Nations continue their advocacy with Nigerian authorities and support all efforts that could lead to the children’s release,” she said.
SOURCE: CAJ NEWS AGENCY