Boko Haram has abducted more than 1,000 children since 2013

Boko Haram has abducted more than 1,000 children since 2013

The United Nations children’s agency, UNICEF, says more than 1,000 children have been abducted in Nigeria’s northeast region since 2013.

Boko Haram regularly seizes youngsters to spread fear and show power, UNICEF says on the eve of the 4th anniversary of the abduction of 276 schoolgirls from the town of Chibok.

Chibok abduction

276 Chibok girls were kidnapped from their school dormitory on April 14, 2014.

Calls for their rescue sparked global outrage behind the Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) advocacy.

Over 164 of the abducted Chibok schoolgirls have so far returned home following negotiations between the federal government and the terrorists; with 112 still in Boko Haram custody.

"Children in northeastern Nigeria continue to come under attack at a shocking scale," said Mohamed Malick Fall, head of UNICEF in Nigeria.

Verified cases
UNICEF says it has documented more than 1,000 verified cases.

It is the first time UNICEF has published an estimated tally of kidnapped children from a war ravaged northeast region of Nigeria.

The actual number could be much larger, UNICEF adds.

UNICEF says it has interviewed one young woman named Khadija who is now 17 years of age.

Khadija was abducted after a Boko Haram attack on her town, then locked in a room, forced to marry one of the fighters and repeatedly raped, UNICEF details.

She became pregnant and "now lives with her young son in an IDP (displaced persons) camp, where she has struggled to integrate with the other women due to language barriers and the stigma of being a ‘Boko Haram wife’," UNICEF says.

According to UNICEF, at least 2,295 teachers have been killed and more than 1,400 schools destroyed in the Boko Haram conflict.

War

Boko Haram began waging a war against the Nigerian State in 2009. It has killed thousands of Nigerians and displaced millions more in that time.

The President Muhammadu Buhari administration often claims to have technically defeated and sufficiently degraded Boko Haram as a fighting force, but the terrorist sect is still capable of mounting soft target attacks and abducting school kids.

On February 19, 2018, Boko Haram abducted 110 schoolgirls from Yobe State.

104 of the girls were returned by the sect on March 21, following negotiations with the federal government.

One of the girls, Leah Sharibu, is still being held by Boko Haram after she refused to convert to Islam. Five of the schoolgirls died in Boko Haram custody.

Pulse