STRIVE Juvenile Nigeria dedicates a week to protecting children associated with terrorist and violent extremist groups
In Nigeria, Boko Haram has abducted, recruited and exploited thousands of children since the group began attacks around the Lake Chad Basin in 2009. From 2017 to 2019, the UN verified that 1,385 children had been recruited and used by Boko Haram, although this number is likely to be far higher. Children are exploited by Boko Haram in fighting and support roles, they are sexually abused and forcibly married.
Stakeholders who share responsibilities for the treatment of these children face enormous challenges; operating in a context of humanitarian crisis and ongoing conflict; and high levels of internal displacement that disrupt children’s enjoyment of their rights to education, food, health, shelter, water and sanitation. For over ten years, the Nigerian Government has worked to counter the threat of terrorism, including under the Policy Framework and National Action Plan for Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism, which prioritizes a whole of society and whole of government approach.
STRIVE Juvenile Nigeria, funded by the EU, builds on a strong partnership between UNODC and the Government of Nigeria to implement an ambitious programme of activities aimed at supporting the protection of children from terrorism and violent extremism.
20 June, Abuja – The fourth STRIVE Juvenile Nigeria Project Steering Committee was led by the Office of the National Security Advisor and co-chaired by the European Union. Representatives from 26 agencies, working in the security, justice and child protection sectors, gathered in Abuja to reiterate their commitment to protecting children from the dangers of terrorism and violent extremism and providing rehabilitation and reintegration assistance to children who exit these groups.
Brigadier General David Umaru, Director for Intelligence at the National Counter Terrorism Centre, Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), remarked that STRIVE Juvenile “allows an opportunity to make child recruitment and exploitation a priority in the context of the Nigerian PCVE approach. This is necessary and urgent”
After discussing the achievements of the project to date, delegates to the Project Steering Committee Meeting unanimously adopted the STRIVE Juvenile Nigeria workplan for 2023 thereby validating proposals that are in line with the Policy Framework and National Action Plan for Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism; and confirming once again the value and sustainability of STRIVE Juvenile in addressing this complex phenomenon.
This year’s workplan is focused on: enhancing awareness of the phenomenon through publication of the STRIVE Juvenile global research report; better protecting child victims and witnesses through elaboration of a guidance note and delivery of capacity building activities; and launch of a youth-led awareness-raising campaign targeting children, youth, parents and the wider community to fuel acceptance and contribute to reducing stigmatisation of reintegrated children in three targeted local government authorities (LGAs) that have been affected by terrorism and violent extremism, thereby contributing to overall reconciliation.
Jérôme Rivière, Peace and Security Programme Manager, EU delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, opened the workshop by emphasizing the importance of “better analysis of child recruitment patterns and highlighting promising responses to the situation of these children” and commended the project for having “joined hands with youth-led organizations to raise awareness on child association with terrorist groups, engaging children as agents in their own protection.”
20-22 June, Abuja - The UNODC STRIVE Juvenile project delivered a multi-disciplinary training workshop on “The treatment of child victims and witnesses in the counterterrorism context”. 33 participants from the justice and security sectors - including judges, prosecutors and security personnel – took part in the training which was aimed at achieving a shared understanding of key challenges and objectives related to the protection needs of child victims and witnesses; and identifying and strengthening key strategies and measures for protecting these children in the Nigerian context under the framework of the implementation of the Nigeria Call for Action.
Dr. Bosede Adwodola, Director National Peace Academy, Institute for Peace and Reconciliation, speaking on behalf of the delegates noted that “The dimension the training took …is unique and important. ... As professionals, we hardly talk about communication as it concerns children previously associated with terrorist and violent extremist groups….I was taken by surprise. The sections were thorough and as one who supervises PhD students, this presents an area of research that I would love to explore further.”
The STRIVE project forms part of the implementation of UNODC’s Strategic Vision for Nigeria and advances in particular the objectives of promoting initiatives to support the victims of terrorism, in particular women and children recruited and exploited by terrorist organization
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During the Special Event, the new project STRIVE Juvenile has been presented. STRIVE Juvenile: Preventing and Responding to Violence against Children by Terrorist and Violent Extremist Groups is a three-year (2021-2024), EUR 5.5 million initiative by the European Union and UNODC. The project aims to partner with the selected countries, the Republic of Indonesia, the Republic of Iraq and the Federal Republic of Nigeria, for the development and implementation of comprehensive national responses to prevent and counter violent extremism affecting children, in full respect of human rights, gender equality and international law... Read more