The number of children used by Boko Haram for suicide bombings in Nigeria has increased to 44 by the end of 2015, a report from UNICEF showed.
According to the recent data released by UNICEF on Tuesday, four children who were reportedly used in suicide bombings in 2014, the number has increased to 44 in 2015. Roughly seven out of ten of these children are girls. The majority of these children are from Cameroon (21), Nigeria (17), and Chad (2).
But Manuel Fontaine, UNICEF Regional Director for West and Central Africa, clarified that these children are not perpetrators; they are the victims. The UNICEF released the report roughly two years after an Islamic extremist group Boko Haram abducted more or less 200 schoolgirls from Chibok.
“Deceiving children and forcing them to carry out deadly acts has been one of the most horrific aspects of the violence in Nigeria and in neighboring countries. As ‘suicide’ attacks involving children become commonplace, some communities are starting to see children as threats to their safety,” Fontaine said in the UNICEF report.
Fontaine added that the current trend in four countries in Africa where children are being used in suicide bombings can have a devastating effect not only to families of children used as suicide bombers, but to the community as a whole.
According to the report, over the past two years, about 20 percent of suicide bombers in four African countries were children, and 7 out of ten of them are girls. In 2015, roughly half of suicide bombings in Cameroon were perpetrated by girls.
Based on the Beyond Chibok report, which assesses the impact of Boko Haram’s presence to the lives of the people in Nigeria region, the group has displaced 1.3 million children in the area and its neighboring countries, while at least 1,800 schools have been shut down or destroyed due to the armed group. It added that more than 5,000 children are either orphaned or neglected as a result of the group’s presence in the region.