83 children used as 'human bombs'; 450000 risk malnutrition

83 children used as 'human bombs'; 450000 risk malnutrition

Being one of the world's most severe humanitarian crises, the spokesperson said, 8.5 million people in the worst-affected states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe are in need of humanitarian assistance and the crisis shows no sign of abating. Of those, 55 were girls, mostly under 15 years old and 27 were boys. "The use of children in this way is an atrocity".

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) on Tuesday raised concerns over the increase in the use of children, especially girls, as suicide bombers in the North-East by Boko Haram terrorists.

Boko Haram has sometimes, but not always, according to UNICEF, claimed responsibility for the attacks against the civilian population.

The UN body did not give an explanation for the rise in numbers.

The agency made this known in a statement by its Chief of Communication in Nigeria, Doune Porter.

Hafsat Muhammed, a Nigerian rights activist and journalist, said the actual number of children used by the armed group is even higher.

Some 1.7 million people have fled their homes in the north-east, in the wake of the islamist insurgency that has caused the death of at least 20 000 people since its beginning in 2009.

"The use of children in such attacks has had a further impact of creating suspicion and fear of children who have been released, rescued or escaped from Boko Haram". Nigerian aid worker Rebecca Dali, who runs an agency that offers counselling for those who were abducted, said children as young as four were among the 209 escapees her organisation had helped since 2015. The girls confirmed that they were taught that their life was not worth living, that if they die detonating the bomb and killing a lot of people, then their lives will be profitable.

Porter disclosed further that due to the massive displacement and malnutrition crisis poised by insurgent attacks on the North Eastern part of the country, about 450,000 children were now at risk of severe malnutrition.

The violence and security situation in the region has also forced thousands of parents not to send their children to schools.

"The attackers evaded a nearby military checkpoint by entering the village through bush paths", said Ibrahim Liman, the head of a local anti-jihadist militia force.