The UNICEF said the number of Nigerian girls and women being used in suicide-bombing attacks was increasing at an alarming rate.
In a statement issued on Tuesday in Abuja, the agency stated that the frequency and intensity of the suicide attacks involving women and girls had increased sharply this year. It noted that girls and women had been used to detonate bombs or explosive belts at crowded locations, such as market places and bus stations.
“As the incoming President (Buhari) of Nigeria is expected to be sworn-in this week, UNICEF calls on the Nigerian authorities to place the safety and well-being of all children, especially those affected by the crisis in the North-East, at the centre of the political agenda,” the UN agency said.
According to the agency, more women and children have been used as suicide bombers in the North-East in the first five months of this year than during the whole of last year.
In 2014, 26 suicide attacks were recorded, compared to 27 attacks as of May 2015, according to reports collated by UNICEF.
In at least three-quarters of these incidents, women and children were reportedly used to carry out the attacks.
“Children are not instigating these suicide attacks; they are used intentionally by adults in the most horrific way. They are first and foremost victims – not perpetrators,” the UNICEF Representative in Nigeria, Jean Gough, said.
The agency stated that since July 2014, nine suicide incidents involving children aged between, approximately, 7 and 17 years, all of them girls, had been reported, though it noted that their identity and exact ages had not been verified, as estimates “are based primarily on eyewitness accounts.”
The UNICEF added that an estimated 743,000 children had been uprooted by the conflict in the three most affected states in Nigeria with the number of unaccompanied and separated children likely to be as high as 10,000.
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