Almost 900 child recruits released from anti-Boko Haram militia

Almost 900 children who were recruited into the ranks of an anti-Boko Haram militia in Nigeria have been released, UNICEF said Friday.

The 894 children, including 106 girls, were recruited by the Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF) in Maiduguri in northeast Nigeria.

CJTF is a local militia created in 2013 to fight insurgency in the region.

UNICEF said more than 3,500 children were recruited between 2013 and 2017 for the ongoing conflict in northern Nigeria, where Boko Haram has fought for more than a decade, burning villages and attacking military bases.

“We cannot give up the fight for the children, as long as children are still affected by the fighting. We will continue until there is no child left in the ranks of all armed groups in Nigeria,” said Mohamed Fall, UNICEF Nigeria representative.

UNICEF says 1,727 children have been released since CJTF signed an action plan in 2017 to end child recruitment. The UN agency said it is working with the Nigerian government and local authorities to help reintegrate those released.

Boko Haram fighters have carried out mass kidnappings, assassinations and market bombings. They have killed soldiers in territories the military said it had reclaimed.

In January, almost 30,000 people fled villages to Cameroon, according to the UN Refugee agency.