By; ALEX UANGBAOJE, Abuja
Following the release of 24 children, suspected to have links with armed group, from administrative custody by the Nigerian Army, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), has reiterated its support for the reintegration of children released, until there are no more children in Army custody.
UNICEF, in a statement made available to newsmen on Saturday, by Geofrey Njoku, External and Media Relations Officer, UNICEF Abuja, and signed UNICEF Nigeria acting Representative Pernille Ironside, stated that, “UNICEF will continue to work with military and the authorities to support the reintegration of all children released, until there are no more children in administrative custody.”
According to the statement, “UNICEF today welcomed the release of 24 children aged 12 to 17 from Nigerian Army administrative custody after they were cleared of suspected ties with armed groups. This brings the number of children released this year to 207.
“For these children, the long journey towards reuniting with their families, reintegrating with their communities and fulfilling their dreams starts today. We must support these children to fulfil their hopes and aspirations.”
She said, “as part of these efforts, UNICEF works with the Borno State Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development and partners to provide the children with medical attention and psychosocial support, before the process begins of reuniting them with their families and reintegrating them into society.
“Since 2017, UNICEF has supported the social and economic reintegration of more than 8,700 children previously associated with non-state actors in north-east Nigeria, helping trace their families, returning them to their communities, and offering them psychosocial support, education, vocational training and informal apprenticeships, and opportunities to improve their livelihoods.
“However, the resources available to support children affected by the conflict in North-East Nigeria are limited, with just under half of the required resources available, limiting UNICEF’s ability to deliver an integrated package of protection, WASH, nutrition and health services for the survival and development of vulnerable children in conflict affected areas.”