A data released by the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund show that child suicide attacks in Nigeria and neighbouring countries rose sharply from four in 2014 to 44 in 2015.
The data was released on the second anniversary of the abduction of over 200 schoolgirls in Chibok, Borno State.
A UNICEF report entitled ‘Beyond Chibok’ shows that between January 2014 and February 2016, Cameroon recorded 21 Boko Haram-induced suicide attacks involving children, followed by Nigeria, 17, and Chad, two. More than 75 percent of the children were girls.
According to the report, nearly 1.3 million children have been displaced.
About 1,800 schools are closed, damaged, looted, burnt down or used as shelter by displaced people. Over 5,000 children were reportedly unaccompanied/separated from their parents.
In a statement, UNICEF Regional Director for West and Central Africa, Manuel Fontaine, said: “Let us be clear: these children are victims, not perpetrators. 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 neighbouring countries.”
“Last year, children were used in one out of two attacks in Cameroon, one out of eight in Chad, and one out of seven in Nigeria,” Fontaine added.
The statement revealed that in 2015 for the first time, ‘suicide’ bombing attacks in general spread beyond Nigeria’s borders and that the frequency of all suicide bombings increased from 32 in 2014 to 151 last year.
Fontaine noted that the response to the crisis remains severely underfunded. “This year, only 11 percent of the US$97 million needed for UNICEF’s humanitarian response has been received and UNICEF is calling for increased commitment from donors to support affected children and women.”