The Boko Haram in Nigeria is using children as human bombs and shields in the frontline of war. The barbaric group has also subjected girls to sexual abuse, with many of them kept as sex slaves. In one particular case, a 14-year-old girl who was carrying a baby on her back was forced to detonate a bomb in a marketplace. All these atrocities are detailed by United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein in his opening statement addressed to the council on April 1.
Bodies of Children Strewn Everywhere
“Witnesses and survivors confirmed that many women and girls have been enslaved and subjected to sexual violence, forced labor and compulsory conversion. Credible reports indicate that Boko Haram frequently uses children as its first line of attack, as expendable cannon fodder,” Al Hussein said in his opening statement.
“Bodies of children around 12 years old have been found strewn across such battlefields. The group has also repeatedly used young children as human bombs, including a case of a 14 year old girl carrying a baby on her back who detonated a bomb in a marketplace. These reports, if confirmed by a court of law, would constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity,” he said.
The Boko Haram has been spreading violence in Nigeria since 2009, with at least 15,000 individuals killed. According to reports from the United Nations, countless children and women have been abducted, abused and forcibly recruited. Over a million people have already been displaced by the conflict within Nigeria, and at least 168,000 have fled to neighboring countries.
According to Al Hussein, the rampant human rights violations in the region are not isolated to the Boko Haram.
“As we have reported to this Council, there have also been persistent and credible reports of serious violations by the security forces of Nigeria and other countries in their response to Boko Haram activities.”
Al Hussein insisted for member nations to investigate the alleged violations conducted by security forces. “If indeed acts prohibited under international law are confirmed, the perpetrators should be held accountable,” he said.
Allegiance with the ISIS
Mohamed Ibn Chambas, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the UN Office for West Africa or UNOWA, said that Boko Haram’s recent pledging of allegiance to the ISIS is an alarming signal that the group has plans of spreading terror beyond Nigeria.
Assistant Secretary-General Kyung Wha-Kang of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs also presented findings that confirmed Boko Haram has been using girls as suicide bombers since 2014.
“In 2014, the group also commenced using young girls as suicide bombers for attacks in populated urban areas. We have also observed an alarming trend of children being used by the group as human shields,” Kang told the council.
Kang is urging for increased humanitarian aid and funding.
“The humanitarian situation in north-east Nigeria and in the conflict-affected areas in neighbouring countries remains dire. The conflict continues to have a devastating impact on women, children and young people, as well as on many others who have been traumatized by violence. Additional funding to address the acute humanitarian needs of those affected by the conflict is urgently needed.”
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