183 children freed in Nigeria following military detention

More than 180 children were released from Nigerian Armed Forces in July after being cleared of having ties to Boko Haram.

UNICEF announced that 183 children – eight girls and 175 boys – were freed from detention in Maiduguri, northeast Nigeria on 9 July.

Boko Haram’s extremist campaign has killed thousands in Nigeria and neighbouring Chad and Cameroon, with at least 1,000 children reportedly abducted by the group. During 2017, the group forced 203 children to detonate improvised explosive devices in Nigeria and Cameroon.

“These 8 girls and 175 boys are first and foremost victims of the ongoing conflict and their release is an important step on their long road to recovery,” said Mohamed Fall, UNICEF Representative in Nigeria.

“We will be working with the Borno State Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development and partners to provide the children with all the assistance they need. I also want to commend the action taken by the military and the authorities, it demonstrates a clear commitment to better protect children affected by the conflict.”

Public believe British army should recruit from 18 - ICM survey

A new survey has revealed that a large majority of the public believe the British army recruitment age should be 18 or above, The Guardian reported.

The nationwide ICM survey conducted in July 2018, and commissioned by Child Soldiers International along with Plaid Cymru MP Liz Saville Roberts, ForcesWatch and Medact, found that 72% of respondents who expressed a view believe the minimum army enlistment age should be 18 or above.

The Ministry of Defence has long been criticised for allowing 16 and 17-year-olds to join the armed forces. The UK is the only European country which allows those aged 16 to join.

“The survey results are conclusive. A significant majority of the UK public believe the army should only be recruiting adults,” Child Soldiers International’s head of campaigns Rachel Taylor said.

“The MoD’s current policy of recruiting soldiers from 16 is not only at odds with the majority of the world - the UK is the only European country to do so – but it is now also clear that a large majority of the public believe the minimum recruitment age should be higher.”

UN Security Council passes resolution to protect children in armed conflict

The UN Security Council met to debate the latest UN annual report on Children and Armed Conflict in July and unanimously passed a new resolution to better protect children from recruitment and other grave violations.

The resolution aims to improve the protection of children in armed conflicts, including by combating their recruitment by non-state armed groups and treating formerly recruited children primarily as victims.

The UN annual report said children had been victims of 21,000 grave violations in conflict during 2017, while 56 armed groups and seven state forces were listed as being guilty of recruiting and using children.

“We cannot further jeopardize our most precious resource through inaction, but must increase our efforts to develop preventive tools, utilize reintegration strategically to break cycles of violence and address the cross-border nature of violations through increased cooperation,” the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict Virginia Gamba said.

UK intelligence and police using child spies in covert operations

The Guardian reported in July that British police and intelligence agencies are using children as spies in covert operations against terrorists, gangs and drug dealers.

A government committee revealed the practice had been used by government security officials with children as young as 16 being used as covert intelligence operatives to assist police in gathering information.

Lord Terfgarne, chair of the House of Lords’ committee, said “enabling a young person to participate in covert activity associated with serious crime for an extended period of time may increase the risks to their mental and physical welfare”.

The Home Office minister, Ben Wallace, suggested to the committee that children may have “unique access to information”, particularly in the case of gangs.