In its decade-long campaign of violence in Nigeria, the Islamic terrorist organization Boko Haram has recruited and enslaved more than 8,000 children. That number is part of a new United Nations report released on Monday.
Boko Haram uses children for both combatant and noncombatant roles, according to Sylvester Tunde Atere, national project officer of the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crimes(UNODC). Some are used in suicide bombings, while others are kidnapped and forced into marriage. Poor children are at greatest risk of exploitation because the terrorist group promises recruits food and money.
Boko Haram Victims and Recruits Face “lasting traumatic effects”
Since 2009, Boko Haram (which means “Western education is forbidden”) has terrorized West Africa in an attempt to institute Sharia, or Islamic law. Atere of the UNODC says the impact on children has been particularly devastating. “Rehabilitating and reintegrating these children pose significant challenges not only in view of their number but also due to the intense and lasting traumatic effects,” he says.
In April, on the fifth anniversary of the kidnapping of 276 schoolgirls in Chibok, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari promised, “We will not rest until all the remaining girls are back and reunited with their families.” More than 110 are still missing. Buhari added, “We will never give up on our missing daughters, including Leah Sharibu and all the other people held hostage by Boko Haram.”
Sharibu is one of more than 100 girls kidnapped in February 2018. Five were killed, and all but Sharibu, who’s a Christian, were released. Her mother has asked U.S. officials to intervene, and last week Vice President Mike Pence met with Nigeria’s vice president to discuss the situation.
This week, journalist Isha Sesay released Beneath the Tamarind Tree, a book detailing the recovery of many of the released Chibok Girls. Sesay hopes to remind the world of all the Nigerian children and teenagers who remain in captivity.
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Source: Church Leaders