Africa

UNICEF hails UN delisting of CJTF from armed groups recruiting children

Civilian Joint Task Force fighting terrorism in northeast has been under UN watch since 2017

Olarewaju Kola   | 19.10.2021
UNICEF hails UN delisting of CJTF from armed groups recruiting children

MAIDUGURI, Nigeria

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) on Monday welcomed the delisting of a state-backed vigilante group in Nigeria’s northeast as an armed group recruiting children, saying it is a step forward for child protection. 

In his latest report, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the delisting was due to a significant reduction in the number of children recruited into the Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF) and the group’s commitment to implement an action plan he signed with the UN Country Task Force on Monitoring and Reporting (CTFMR) in 2017 to end the recruitment and use of children.

"This is a welcome development for the children of Nigeria,” said Phuong Nguyen, the fund’s field officer in Maiduguri, the heartland of terrorist activities by the Boko Haram insurgent group.

Nguyen said, however, that the delisting was just the first step in a series of efforts to discourage armed groups from recruiting and using children as fighters.

"I urged the CJTF to establish child protection units across its offices to prevent the future recruitment and use of children," she said.

In 2017, the UN listed the CJTF among armed groups in Africa using children as fighters. The group is fighting a war against terrorists alongside army troops.

A group of youths formed a volunteer group dubbed the CJTF in June 2013 to halt the growing attacks by Boko Haram in northeastern Borno state.

Nearly 300,000 people have been killed and 3 million civilians displaced in more than a decade of Boko Haram violence in the country, according to a UN report.

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