According to a recent report by UN’s child agency UNICEF, terror group Boko Haram has increasingly used children as suicide bombers during the last year. The ratio of children carrying out suicide attacks was one in every five of the suicide attacks.
Boko Haram which means “Western education is forbidden” has deliberately killed at least 611 teachers while 19,000 were forced to flee over a period of six years due to the insurgency in Nigeria, claims a human rights watch group. UNICEF says that Boko Haram has targeted more than 1,800 schools causing them to be closed, damaged, looted, set on fire or in some cases the school buildings have been used as a shelter by the homeless due to insurgency. More than 5,000 children have been separated from their parents, because of the conflict.
The UNICEF report, which is titled, “Beyond Chibok,” further explains that boys are abducted by the terror group and recruited into its ranks. Often times the terror group forces these abducted children to carry out suicide attacks on their families in order to express loyalty with the terror group.
On the other hand, girls abducted by the terror group are exposed to ruthless maltreatment including sexual abuse and forced marriage to the Boko Haram fighters. The report included story of a 17-year-old girl who was abducted by the terror group and was sexually abused. She told UNICEF that she refused to marry a Boko Haram fighter despite death threats. “Then they came for me at night. They kept me locked in a house for over a month and told me: ‘Whether you like it or not, we have already married you,” she told UNICEF. The girl is now living with her baby in a camp in the Nigerian city of Maiduguri. However, the report states that the girl is often shunned by other women in the camp who accuse her of being a “Boko Haram wife.”
The report further claims that about one third of the attacks carried out by Boko Haram in Cameroon, Nigeria and Chad; were by girls abducted by the group. 75% of children used were girls.
Manuel Fontaine of UNICEF says, “As ‘suicide’ attacks involving children become commonplace, some communities are starting to see children as threats to their safety. This suspicion towards children can have destructive consequences; how can a community rebuild itself when it is casting out its own sisters, daughters and mothers?”