A United Front to Protect Child Victims of Terrorism: Nigeria partners with the European Union and UNODC under STRIVE Juvenile

Abuja, 16 March, 2021-Terrorism is one of the most prominent security threats globally. However, the focus on its political dimension and its impact on national security risks obscuring the stories of its victims. Children are among these victims, in fact, they are disproportionately affected by terrorism. Those children who become associated with terrorist groups are exposed to serious forms of violence. They can be recruited to contribute to dangerous actions, exploited by the groups in various roles, subjected to sexual violence, and forced to grow up in constant insecurity. The consequences of such violence on the lives of children are devastating. On the 17th European Remembrance Day for Victims of Terrorism, the European Union and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) are happy to announce that they have joined efforts to better protect these children under a new project: STRIVE Juvenile.

Too often, children who have been associated with terrorist and violent extremist groups are stigmatized, perceived as security threats, and exposed to further violations of their rights. STRIVE Juvenile aims to reverse this course, ensuring that these children are treated primarily as victims and that they receive the support they are entitled to, in line with the commitments of the new EU Counter-Terrorism Agenda. To do so, UNODC will implement a tailored programme of technical assistance in three partner countries that play a leading role in this area of work: Indonesia, Iraq and Nigeria.

Yesterday, the Government of Nigeria announced its commitment to STRIVE Juvenile, on occasion of the Special Event on the “UNODC Roadmap” on the treatment of these children, held during the 14th United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice. Admiral Yem Musa, Coordinator of the Counter Terrorism Centre of the Office of the National Security Adviser welcomed the opportunity to engage in the project, stating “Without investment on rehabilitation and reintegration of children, there will be no end to the cycle of violence generated and exploited by terrorists and violent extremists”. Ms. Miwa Kato, UNODC’s Director of the Division for Operations, saluted Nigeria’s participation in the project, celebrating an engagement that will help “turn the guidance of the UNODC Roadmap into action”.

STRIVE Juvenile will work with the government gate-keepers in each country, strengthening the capacities of those professionals who can facilitate access to rehabilitation and reintegration programmes adapted to children. At the same time, it will partner up with civil society organizations to foster the participation of children and their communities in these efforts. Building the resilience of victims and supporting their recovery and reintegration are crucial steps towards lasting peace. And as recalled by Hilde Hardeman, Head of the European Commission's Service for Foreign Policy Instruments during the Special Event, working for and with children is especially crucial, as “they have the power to transform societal dynamics”.