Category Archives: Terrorism

Understanding Child Soldier Recruitment Needed to Help Curb Crisis

By Will Higginbotham
Inter Press News

child-soldier_-629x419
Former child solider Mulume (front left) feels hopeless about his future. Credit: Einberger/argum/EED/IPS

 

UNITED NATIONS, Feb 23 2018 (IPS) – It is not known exactly how many child soldiers there are in the world, but current estimates tell us that in 2018, the number is likely to be in the tens of thousands.

Children have been used in hostilities – including as human bombs –by state and non-state groups in at least 18 conflicts since 2016 alone.

Today, a staggering 46 nations continue to attract and enlist people under 18 into their militaries.

These are some of the statistics from the Child Soldiers World Index – a newly released database that examines UN member states for their use of child soldiers in the armed forces and non-state groups.

The statistics are indeed concerning, with even the UN declaring that the number of at risk children is increasing at an “alarming rate.”

So what exactly is driving children to become involved with armed groups? And, what can be done to get a grip on the crisis?

These are the questions that the United Nations University (UNU), the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations Luxemburg and Switzerland have been working to answer by conducting field research on child recruitment practices in Mali, Iraq and Nigeria.

THE ROLE OF “RADICALISATION”

According to the report, entitled ‘Cradled by Conflict: Children in Contemporary Conflict’, a mistake that policy makers are making is focusing too much on the idea that child soldiers join armed groups because they have been ‘radicalised.’

“Currently there is a tendency to attribute child involvement in conflicts to them becoming radicalised and swept up in this violent ideology… but this is rarely the primary factor motivating child association in armed groups,” the project’s leader researcher Siobhan O’Neil told IPS.

For example, the report found that ideology was hardly a factor in Mali where child solider recruitment is often paired with a narrative of radicalisation.

“In Mali, the intercommunal conflicts over resources and cattle, issues made worse by climate change and state corruption– were far more likely to drive children to armed groups,” O’Neil said.

Even in cases where ideology does play a role in a child’s trajectory towards an armed group, it is usually only one of a number of motivating or facilitating factors.

In Nigeria, Boko Haram has conflated its religious ideology with a rejection of the Nigerian state, the latter of which, the report found “may be the greater driver of association with Boko Haram for Nigerians who have experienced state oppression and violence.”

“NO CHOICE BUT TO JOIN”

UNU’s research also challenges a re-occurring perception that children can simply avoid joining armed groups.

The report stressed that for many children, especially those living within an occupied territory, neutrality is not an option.

“That’s a fallacy. It’s virtually impossible for children to remain unaffiliated in a war zone,” Kato Van Broeckhoven, a co-author of the research, told IPS.

“When an armed group is the only employer – like they are in parts of Syria and Nigeria – and they have physical control of a region, joining may be the only realistic way to survive,” she continued.

“PRO-SOCIAL REASONS TO JOIN”

The report also found that for some children, armed groups are attractive because they offer a sense of ‘community’, a sense of ‘significance’, and a feeling of ‘order amid chaos’.

For example in both Mali and Nigeria, where strict hierarchical societies are the norm, armed groups can provide a way for young people to express themselves and attain a level of status beyond what society would usually allow someone of their age.

Addressing what this research means for policy makers and programs on the ground, O’Neil told IPS that “ultimately, what we see is that there is no mono-causal reason for children getting involved in armed groups.”

“It’s important any intervention programs geared towards preventing them becoming involved, assisting them with release and reintegration recognise that and take a holistic approach to addressing children’s needs and risks,” she continued.

The report argues that many current interventions aimed at assisting child soldiers have leaned towards an ‘ideological approach’ – one that aims to ‘prevent’ and ‘counter’ violent extremism.

In the absence of evidence that links radical ideology to children becoming involved in armed groups, O’Neil and her fellow researchers say that any ‘ideological approach’ to intervention should only be used when there is clear evidence that it would be preventative.

Otherwise, as the report noted, “it’s a one size, fits none’ approach.

In the report, researchers urged for more effective international efforts to prevent and respond to child recruitment and use by armed groups including:

(1) avoid programmes focused primarily on ideological factors; (2) only incorporate ideological components where individually necessary and where they can be embedded into larger, holistic efforts to address the needs and risks of children; (3) ensure all interventions are empirically based; (4) rigorously assess interventions over the long term; and (5) engage children not just as beneficiaries, but as partners.

The ‘Cradled to Conflict’ report and the Child Soldiers World Index data was launched on the International Day against the use of Child Soldiers, and the anniversary of the OPAC treaty – the world’s first international treaty wholly focused on ending the military exploitation of children.

Nigeria exchanges 82 Chibok girls kidnapped by Boko Haram for prisoners

Reuters: World News | Sun May 7, 2017 | 4:23pm EDT
By Felix Onuah and Ahmed Kingimi | Reuters

FILE PHOTO: Members of the #BringBackOurGirls campaign rally in Nigeria's capital Abuja to mark 1,000 days since over 200 schoolgirls were kidnapped from their secondary school in Chibok by Islamist sect Boko Haram, Nigeria
Members of the #BringBackOurGirls campaign rally in Nigeria’s capital Abuja to mark 1,000 days since over 200 schoolgirls were kidnapped from their secondary school in Chibok by Islamist sect Boko Haram, Nigeria January 8, 2017. (REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde)

ABUJA/MAIDUGURI, Nigeria | Boko Haram militants have released 82 schoolgirls out of a group of more than 200 whom they kidnapped from the northeastern town of Chibok three years ago in exchange for prisoners, the presidency said on Saturday.

Around 270 girls were kidnapped in April 2014 by the Islamist militant group, which has killed 15,000 people and displaced more than two million during a seven-year insurgency aimed at creating an Islamic caliphate in northeastern Nigeria.

Dozens escaped in the initial melee, but more than 200 remained missing for more than two years.

Nigeria thanked Switzerland and the International Committee of the Red Cross for helping secure the release of the 82 girls after “lengthy negotiations,” the presidency said in a statement.

President Muhammadu Buhari will receive the girls on Sunday afternoon in the capital Abuja, it said, without saying how many Boko Haram suspects had been exchanged or disclosing other details.

A military source said the girls were brought on Sunday morning from Banki near the Cameroon border to Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state where the insurgency started.

The release of the girls may give a boost to Buhari who has hardly appeared in public since returning from Britain in March for treatment of an unspecified illness.

He made crushing the insurgency a pillar of his election campaign in 2015.

The army has retaken most of the territory initially lost to the militants but attacks and suicide bombings by the group have made it nearly impossible for displaced persons to return to their recaptured hometowns.

“The President directed the security agencies to continue in earnest until all the Chibok girls have been released and reunited with their families,” the presidency said.

INSECURITY
More than 20 girls were released last October in a deal brokered by the International Committee of the Red Cross. Others have escaped or been rescued, but 195 were believed to be still in captivity.

Buhari said last month that the government was in talks to secure the release of the remaining captives.

Related Coverage

‘Welcome our dear girls’, Nigeria’s Buhari tells freed Chibok girls

Although the Chibok girls are the most high-profile case, Boko Haram has kidnapped thousands of adults and children, many of whose cases have been neglected.

Although the army has retaken much of the territory initially lost to Boko Haram, large parts of the northeast, particularly in Borno state, remain under threat from the militants. Suicide bombings and gun attacks have increased in the region since the end of the rainy season late last year.

Some 4.7 million people in northeast Nigeria depend on food aid, some of which is blocked by militant attacks, some held up by a lack of funding and some, diplomats say, stolen before it can reach those in need.

Millions of Nigerians may soon be in peril if the situation deteriorates, as authorities expect, when the five-month rainy season begins in May and makes farming impossible in areas that are now accessible.

This part of Nigeria is the western edge of an arc of hunger stretching across the breadth of Africa through South Sudan, Somalia and into Yemen on the Arabian peninsula. The United Nations believes as many as 20 million people are in danger in what could become the world’s worst famine for decades.

(Additional reporting by Tife Owolabi and Ulf Laessing; editing by Angus MacSwan and Jason Neely)

The only way to end terrorism is to address its causes and uphold the law

Refugees at the Dadaab camp in northern Kenya. AFP FILE PHOTO
Refugees at the Dadaab camp in northern Kenya. AFP FILE PHOTO

News reports state that work on building the 700-kilometre wall between Kenya and Somalia has started. There has been no public procurement, as required, so we don’t know its cost.

Now remember that suspect procurements have landed many people on the famous anti-corruption list. Will it now be updated to include the public officers who have authorized these works, which started with the digging of ditches in Kiunga, Lamu? Continue reading The only way to end terrorism is to address its causes and uphold the law

Nigerian cardinal supports offer of amnesty to Boko Haram insurgents

Catholic News Service

By Catholic News Service

ABUJA, Nigeria (CNS) — Cardinal John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan of Abuja supported Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan’s proposal to offer amnesty for any Boko Haram militants who stop fighting and embrace peace.

In a June 3 letter, Cardinal Onaiyekan said any amnesty arrangement must be undertaken with the goal of reconciliation among the government, militants and victims of violence.

The letter was the fifth the cardinal sent from Rome to Nigeria to address violence in his country. The cardinal said he is in Rome tending to church-related business.

A day later, the Administrative Board of the Nigerian bishops’ conference called for six months of prayer for peace in response to the violence that has rocked much of Africa’s most-populous nation. The bishops outlined a series of prayerful actions that individuals, clergy, religious and parishes can take from July through December.

Cardinal Onaiyekan wrote that offering amnesty “is a great challenge, which calls for a lot of commitment, sincerity and consistency on the part of government and its agents.” Continue reading Nigerian cardinal supports offer of amnesty to Boko Haram insurgents

Kenya orders all refugees into designated camps

East African

Sunday’s attack, in the Likoni district near Mombasa, came amid heightened warnings of a threat of Islamist violence in Kenya despite boosted security in major cities.
• Dadaab, where people often live in appalling conditions, is home to more than 400,000 mainly Somali refugees.
• Kakuma, a vast desert settlement, is home to more than 125,000 refugees from across the region, including Somalia.

Internal security Cabinet Secretary Joseph Ole Lenku flanked by other Security officials. Photo/EVANS HABIL
Internal security Cabinet Secretary Joseph Ole Lenku flanked by other Security officials. Photo/EVANS HABIL

Internal security Cabinet Secretary Joseph Ole Lenku flanked by other Security officials. Photo/EVANS HABIL
Kenya on Tuesday restricted all refugees on its soil to two designated camps in the wake of a weekend attack on a church near Mombasa that claimed six lives.

Kenyans were asked to report any refugees or illegal immigrants outside the overcrowded camps – Dadaab in the east and Kakuma in the northwest – to the police. Continue reading Kenya orders all refugees into designated camps

Nigeria Has Been Stumbling In Its Fight Against Boko Haram

Think Progress

By Will Freeman
Nigeria Boko Haram
Nigeria’s Nigeria’s chief of defense staff Air Marshal Alex Badeh, talks to the press during a protest against the government’s failure to rescue the nearly 300 girls kidnapped by Boko Haram CREDIT: AP

On Wednesday, militants disguised as members of the Nigerian army believed to be members of the Boko Haram terrorist group [ http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-27690687 ]attacked a church in the northeastern state of Borno, killing dozens. Witnesses report they also [ http://time.com/2822471/witnesses-boko-haram-seizing-villages-in-nigeria/ ]captured three villages near the border with Cameroon. This violent episode is part of an ongoing string of terrorist attacks throughout northern Nigeria that, despite receiving [ http://thinkprogress.org/world/2014/05/21/3440261/obama-military-nigeria/ ]U.S. support, the Nigerian government is struggling to address. Continue reading Nigeria Has Been Stumbling In Its Fight Against Boko Haram

UN committee imposes sanctions on Nigeria’s Boko Haram

BBC
Recommended by Eucharia Madueke, SNDdeN

The important thing is to attack the problem, and that is terrorism” – U Joy Ogwu Nigerian permanent representative to the UN

Abubakar Shekau, Boko Haram commander
Abubakar Shekau, Boko Haram commander

Under the command of Abubakar Shekau, Boko Haram has stepped up its attacks
The UN Security Council has approved sanctions against the Nigerian militant group Boko Haram, five weeks after it kidnapped more than 200 schoolgirls.

It will now be added to a list of al-Qaeda-linked organisations subject to an arms embargo and asset freeze.

US envoy Samantha Power said it was an “important step” in support of efforts to “defeat Boko Haram and hold its murderous leadership accountable”.

Analysts say it is hard to say what practical effect the move will have.

Boko Haram was earlier blamed for the deaths of 27 people in a north-eastern village.

Residents said gunmen had shot dead farm workers in Chikongudo, set fire to nearly all the homes there and stolen food in an attack on Wednesday night. The assailants stormed the village in cars and motorbikes, a trademark of Boko Haram, the residents added.

Continue reading UN committee imposes sanctions on Nigeria’s Boko Haram