UNICEF Nigeria

Supporting Children Formerly Associated with Armed Groups in North-eastern Nigeria

Ten years after the beginning of an insurgency in Nigeria, repeated attacks have left entire villages barren and burned. More than 20,000 people have been killed, while more than 4,000 have been abducted.

s with any conflict, children in Nigeria are paying the highest price for something completely out of their control. More than 800 schools across the region have been closed, and many have been irreparably destroyed. Violence against women and children is increasing, especially by members of armed groups, the military, and the national government’s emergency management personnel. And of every four suicide bombers, one is a child.

Faced with such circumstances, more than 2 million people have been displaced within Nigeria, and nearly 230,000 more have left the country’s borders to find safety. The majority of these individuals are children and women – some of whom are forced to flee as soon as an attack hits, leaving behind family, friends and everything they once knew.

With support from the Fund, UNICEF Nigeria has been advocating with the Government of Nigeria to find these separated children and reunite them with their families. Throughout the year, the agency has also released children in military detention centres and removed children from armed groups. To do so, UNICEF Nigeria established a referral mechanism in collaboration with the International Committee of the Red Cross, the Government of Nigeria, and the UN Humanitarian Air Service. Together, these groups have cultivated a family tracing and reunification process that is both interstate and international; as a result, 1,911 children have been reunified with their families or returned to their community of origin. UNICEF Nigeria has also trained over 22,000 community members to prepare for the return of these children, increasing awareness of the support they need to get back on their feet.