The Boko Haram terror group is intensifying its recruitment of children as suicide bombers and soldiers, International Christian Concern (ICC) reported Tuesday.
ICC said the Islamist militants target young children to act as suicide bombers, while seeking older children to serve either as suicide bombers or soldiers. To entice young recruits, Boko Haram promises “protection, purpose, food and security” in return for services.
Already in 2015, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reported an increase in the use of children for suicide attacks in Nigeria by Boko Haram and other Islamic terror groups. “Children are not instigating these suicide attacks; they are used intentionally by adults in the most horrific way,” said Jean Gough, the UNICEF representative in Nigeria. “They are first and foremost victims – not perpetrators.” Of 27 suicide attacks that took place in the first five months of 2015, UNICEF said “at least three-quarters” involved women and children.
“Many children have been separated from their families when they fled the violence, with no one to look after them,” continued Gough. “Without the protection of their families, these children are at greater risk of exploitation by adults, and this can lead to involvement in criminal or armed group activities.”