Nigeria Call for Action’: The EU, UNODC Reiterate Support to Protect Children from Terrorism and Violent Extremist Groups

By our Correspondent

Reports reaching us at African Future Leadership Magazine say that the European Union (EU) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) have reiterated their strong partnership with the Government of Nigeria, under the leadership of the Office of the National Security Advisor (ONSA), to address efforts to prevent child recruitment by terrorist groups and to promote the rehabilitation and reintegration of children formerly associated with terrorist and violent groups in Nigeria.

During a high-level launch event in Abuja on the 1st of December, the government of Nigeria adopted the ‘Nigeria Call for Action’, a declaration on protecting children from armed groups designated as terrorist groups. The development of the text of this declaration was facilitated by UNODC through the Project ‘STRIVE Juvenile’, an initiative funded by the EU under the UNODC Global Programme to End Violence against Children, for the development and implementation of comprehensive national responses to prevent and counter violent extremism affecting children.

The event convened with representatives from the federal government, including the Minister of Women’s Affairs, the CT Coordinator and the Solicitor General, representatives of the governments of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe, civil society organizations, religious leaders and youth, all coming together to stress the need for a whole-of-society and whole-of-government approach to tackle the complex phenomenon of child association with terrorist groups. Participants applauded the outstanding achievement that represents the ‘Nigeria Call for Action’ which adopts for the first time in Nigeria such a coherent approach and acknowledged this as “a requirement for concerted multi-stakeholder action to achieve long-lasting peace and development.

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”The ‘Nigeria Call for Action’ recognizes that children associated with armed groups designated as terrorist groups have to be considered and treated primarily as victims, and that prevention and rehabilitation and reintegration should be a priority for the country. This Call for Action sets a precedent and represents a unique opportunity to align the security, humanitarian and development agendas in the protection of children from recruitment and exploitation.

Many participants also stressed that “children and youth should be empowered as partners and agents of change on the path to long-lasting peace and become key players in supporting societies free from violence.” (Give Peace a Chance!

UNODC then reminded that ending recruitment of children by armed groups designated as terrorist groups should be a priority for the security agenda, highlighting how “preserving public safety and protecting child rights are two complementary objectives to be pursued concomitantly with the aim of achieving peace and security”.The ‘Nigeria Call for Action’ represents a major step towards concerted multi-stakeholders efforts to address child association with terrorist and violent extremist groups and its consequences for the lives of children and society at large, and to enhance the protection of children from serious forms of violence against children committed by these groups.

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