UNITED NATIONS, May 10 (Xinhua) -- A total of 894 children, including 106 girls, were released from the ranks of the Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF) in Maiduguri, northeast Nigeria, as part of its commitment to end and prevent the recruitment and use of children, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) reported on Friday.
"Any commitment for children that is matched with action is a step in the right direction for the protection of children's rights and must be recognized and encouraged," said Mohamed Fall, representative of UNICEF in Nigeria and the co-chair of United Nations Country Task Force on Monitoring and Reporting on Grave Child Rights Violations (CTFMR).
The CJTF is a local militia that helps the Nigerian security forces in the fight against insurgency in northeast Nigeria. It was formed in 2013, with the aim of protecting communities from attack.
The children and young people released on Friday will benefit from reintegration programs to help them return to civilian life, seize new opportunities for their own development, and contribute to bringing lasting peace in Nigeria, as productive citizens of their country.
In the ongoing armed conflict in northeast Nigeria, more than 3,500 children were recruited and used by non-state armed groups between 2013 and 2017. Others have been abducted, maimed, raped and killed.
"We cannot give up the fight for the children, as long as children are still affected by the fighting. We will continue until there is no child left in the ranks of all armed groups in Nigeria," said Fall.
Since September 2017, when the CJTF signed an action plan committing to putting measures in place to end and prevent recruitment and use of children, 1,727 children and young people have been released. Since then, there has been no new recruitment of children by the CJTF.
The UN Secretary-General's Annual Report on Children and Armed Conflict lists parties to conflict who commit grave violations against children in situations of armed conflict, including recruitment and use of children.