More than 800 child soldiers have been released by the Nigerian self-defense group known as the Civilian Joint Task Force, which is helping soldiers combat the Boko Haram militant group in the north-east of the country.
The United Nations Children’s Agency (UNICEF) says it is the first official release of child soldiers since the group last year signed a pledge to end child recruitment.
The release of child soldiers in the city of Maiduguri is an important step towards ending the recruitment and use of children in Nigeria as the country continues to fight the Boko Haram insurgency for a decade.
The Civilian Joint Task Force is a self-defense group that helps the Nigerian army fight Boko Haram.
UNICEF’s Deputy Representative in Nigeria says the release of children is a sign of commitment to upholding international humanitarian law and protecting the rights of children.
However, Pernille Ironside says there are still many children in the ranks of armed groups. It calls on all parties to the conflict to stop the recruitment of children and to release those who have already been recruited.
In a statement, UNICEF said it will continue to work closely with the Nigerian authorities to support the reintegration of children released into society.