Anti-Boko Haram militia frees 900 children in Nigeria

It was not clear how many children remain in its ranks. (File/AFP)
Updated 10 May 2019

Anti-Boko Haram militia frees 900 children in Nigeria

  • The 894 children, including 106 girls, had been in the ranks of the government-backed Civilian Joint Task Force, a local militia that supports Boko Haram
  • The children freed on Friday bring the total released since then to 1,727 children, UNICEF said

MAIDURUGI, Nigeria: Nearly 900 children held by a pro-government militia force fighting Boko Haram insurgents in northeastern Nigeria were freed on Friday, the UN said.
The 894 children, including 106 girls, had been in the ranks of the government-backed Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF), a local militia which supports regular soldiers battling the extremist insurgents.
At a ceremony in the northeastern town of Maiduguri, they were released as part of the CJTF’s “commitment to end and prevent the recruitment and use of children,” the UN children’s agency (UNICEF) said.
“Children of north-east Nigeria have borne the brunt of this conflict,” said UNICEF chief in Nigeria Mohamed Fall.
“They have been used by armed groups in combatant and non-combatant roles and witnessed death, killing and violence.”
The CJTF is a militia formed in 2013 to protect communities from attack, but it has also recruited hundreds of children.
In 2017, the militia signed a promise to stop recruiting child soldiers and release the ones they hold.
The children freed on Friday bring the total released since then to 1,727 children, UNICEF said.
It was not clear how many children remain in its ranks, but the UN welcomed the news 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,” Fall said.
The freed children will be enrolled into a reintegration program with education and training to help them return to civilian life.
Boko Haram’s decade-long uprising to establish a hard-line group in Nigeria’s northeast has spilled into neighboring Niger, Chad and Cameroon.
The militants have also recruited thousands of children to fight in their ranks.
“We will continue until there is no child left in the ranks of all armed groups in Nigeria,” Fall said, noting that children “have been abducted, maimed, raped and killed.”


Biden slams Trump friendship with ‘thug’ Kim

Updated 23 October 2020

Biden slams Trump friendship with ‘thug’ Kim

  • Trump insists that he has avoided war through his summits with Kim Jong Un
  • Trump calls India, China air ‘filthy’ as he hits Biden’s stance on climate change

NASHVILLE, USA: Democratic candidate Joe Biden on Thursday denounced President Donald Trump for befriending North Korea’s “thug” leader, likening his diplomacy to working with Hitler.
In a sharp clash in their final presidential debate, Biden attacked Trump’s insistence that he has avoided war through his summits with Kim Jong Un.
“He’s talked about his good buddy, who’s a thug,” Biden said of the young North Korean leader.
“That’s like saying we had a good relationship with Hitler before he invaded Europe — the rest of Europe. Come on.”
But Biden indicated he was also willing to meet with Kim, saying his condition would be that Pyongyang works to make the Korean peninsula “a nuclear-free zone.”
Trump said that former president Barack Obama had left him “a mess” on North Korea and had warned him of the risk of “nuclear war.”
After the summits, “we have a very good relationship. And there’s no war,” said Trump, who also played down North Korea’s recent unveiling of a massive new long-range missile at a military parade.
“He didn’t like Obama,” Trump said of Kim not meeting the former president. “He didn’t like him. He wouldn’t do it.”
Biden, who was vice president under Obama, hit back that Obama would not meet Kim because he was pushing stronger sanctions.
“President Obama said we’re going to talk about denuclearization. We’re not going to legitimize you.”
Trump first met in June 2018 with Kim in Singapore, the first-ever summit between the countries still technically at war, and later said that the two leaders “fell in love.”
The two leaders have met two more times and North Korea has since held off on nuclear and missile tests but analysts say Pyongyang has kept advancing its weapons programs.

Climate change
On climate change, Trump described the air in India and China as “filthy” as he denounced Biden’s plans to tackle the controversial issue.
“Look at China, how filthy it is. Look at Russia, look at India — it’s filthy. The air is filthy,” Trump said.
Trump charged that Biden’s climate plan was an “economic disaster” for oil states such as Texas and Oklahoma.
Biden said that climate change is “an existential threat to humanity. We have a moral obligation to deal with it.”
“We’re going to pass the point of no return within the next eight to 10 years,” he said.
The planet has already warmed by around one degree Celsius (34 degrees Fahrenheit) from pre-industrial levels, enough to boost the intensity of deadly heat waves, droughts and tropical storms.
Trump has pulled the United States out of the Paris climate accord, which aims to cap global warming “well below” two degrees Celsius.
Trump’s remarks come days before Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary Mark Esper visit New Delhi for talks on building the growing US-India partnership.
At the first presidential debate, Trump also spoke critically of India, questioning its coronavirus data amid criticism of Trump’s handling of the pandemic.