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Almost 900 child soldiers freed from armed group in north

Almost 900 child soldiers freed from armed group in north”

Some 106 girls were among the minors released from the ranks of the Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF), formed six years ago to assist government forces in the fight against the terror group, said two officials of the United Nations agency in Nigeria.

The jihadis have also recruited thousands of children to fight in their ranks.

According to the United Nations agency, the children of the troubled region "have borne the brunt of years of conflict", linked to an insurgency led by armed extremist opposition groups.

Deputy Solicitor General of Borno State Ministry of Justice, Barrister Abdullahi Hussaini Izge who is also the Project Coordinator Civilian JTF MoU Action Plan in Borno State said with screening and release of over 1,700 children under the ages of 18 from the ranks of CJT, Nigeria should not be regarded as a country using underage children in armed conflict.

UN Swiss Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. George Steiner in his remarks said UN welcome the formal release of the children and this is an evidenced of hope and legality for the children's future while congratulating the children and commending the CJTF and all other partners and agencies involved in the exercise.

"They have been used by armed groups in combatant and non-combatant roles and witnessed death, killing and violence".

UNICEF said some children were maimed, raped and even killed.

"It is a good development that they were released to live as innocent children that they are, to own their own lives", Alabi told Xinhua in an earlier interview.

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He said since September 2017, when the CJTF signed an action plan to stop the recruitment and use of children for the fight against insurgency, 1,727 children and young people had been released. "This participation in the conflict has had serious implications for (sic) their physical and emotional well-being".

It revealed that 9, 800 persons associated with armed groups and vulnerable children in the region accessed reintegration services between 2017 and 2018.

Speaking in Nigeria, Mohamed Fall, UNICEF Representative and Co-chair of the UN Task Force on Monitoring and Reporting on Grave Child Rights Violations (CTFMR) reaffirmed his commitment to liberating and helping youngsters caught up in the conflict.

"We can not give up the fight for the children, as long as children are still affected by the fighting".

833 child soldiers were released by the group in October a year ago.

The UN Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Virginia Gamba, welcomed the latest release from the CJTF.

The 894 children, released at a ceremony in the north-eastern town of Maiduguri, were aged between 13 and 19.

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