Nigeria Agrees to End Child Military Detention

October 4, 2022

Cristian Munduate, Country Representative, UNICEF Nigeria and H.E Geoffrey Onyeama, the Hon. Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nigeria at the signing of the Handover Protocol. pic:UNICEF

Friday 30th September 2022, the Nigerian government finally signed a “handover protocol” with the UN agreeing that children taken into military custody on suspicion of involvement with Boko Haram should be transferred within seven days to civilian authorities for reintegration.

This is an important milestone that will help prevent the military detention of children and ensure they receive needed support.

Handover protocols are practical measures to ensure that instead of prison, children affected by conflict can be reintegrated into their communities.

Nigeria is not the only country where children have been detained for alleged involvement with armed groups.

Last year the UN reported that 2,864 children were detained for suspected association with armed groups in 16 countries, including the Democratic Republic of Congo, Iraq, Libya, Myanmar, Somalia, and Syria.

The protracted armed conflict in North-East Nigeria -has resulted to mass displacement and humanitarian and protection crisis.

From 2016 to September 2022, 4,204 children which is 2,866 boys, 1,338 girls have been released from administrative custody by the Nigerian military and have received interim care services at the Bulumkutu transit center, including community-based social and economic reintegration assistance.

Children affected by conflict need rehabilitation and schooling, not prison. Nigeria’s new agreement should help children get the support they need.

Other governments should follow its example.

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