No fewer than 881 children were either killed or maimed by the Boko Haram terror group and Nigerian security forces in 2017, the United Nations, UN has said.
Of this number, the unfortunate bombing of an internally displaced persons camp in Rann, Borno State, by the Nigerian military caused the death or maiming of 235 children, the UN said.
The report also claimed that apart from the 235 killed or maimed in the Rann bombing, the military also killed or maimed 26 children suspected to be carrying improvised explosive devices in 2017.
These were parts of the annual report of the Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict on Thursday.
The report covered Nigeria, Afghanistan, India, the Philippines, Syria and Yemen.
The content of the report was presented by Virginia Gamba, the UN’s Expert on Children and Armed Conflict, and reported by the New Agency of Nigeria.
Ms Gamba said 66 parties to the conflict were listed in 2018 – three more than in the 2016 report – with nine government forces and 57 armed groups named.
“Among the most significant violations registered in 2017 were killing and maiming, recruitment and use and attacks on schools and hospitals, all of which registered a rise in comparison to the previous year,” Ms Gamba said.
Overall, the UN verified more than 21,000 grave violations of children’s rights between January and December 2017, compared with 15,500 in 2016.
Ms Gamba provided examples, including what she described as the “despicable trend” of turning children in northeast Nigeria into “human bombs”, where nearly half of the 881 verified child casualties (killed or maimed) resulted from suicide attacks.
In Nigeria, she said Boko Haram continued to force civilians, including children, to perpetrate suicide attacks, which led to over half of all the verified child casualties in the country.
“In north-east Nigeria, as well as in neighbouring countries, Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati Wal-Jihad, commonly known as Boko Haram, intensified attacks on civilians, including through suicide bombings and ground attacks.
She, however, said the total number of verified cases of the recruitment and use of children decreased by almost 50 per cent from 2,122 in 2016 to 1,092 in 2017 in Nigeria.
According to her, the UN verified 881 children out of which 570 were killed and 311 maimed in Nigeria, attributing 620 of the casualties to Boko Haram and 261 to Nigerian security forces.