Borno state government has launched a campaign for the reconciliation and reintegration of adult women and children formerly associated with non-state combatants.
At a ceremony at Shehu of Borno’s Palace in Maiduguri, Commissioner for Information Alhaji Babakura Abba Jato said about six thousand non-state combatants and their families have soo far surrendered to Nigerian government.
He however remarked that most of them are women and children who were forcefully conscripted into the group.
Babakura Jatau assured that all the surrendered adult women and children will be properly profiled and undergo psychological intervention before been integrated into the society.
Shehu of Borno Alhaji Abubakar Garbai Elkanemi said the state has been battling with the crisis for twelve years describing the mass surrender as sign of peace returning to the state.
He however requested the involvement of district and village heads in the reintegration process.
Commissioner for Women Affairs Hajiya Zuwaira Gambo and UNICEF Chief of Maiduguri Field Office Phuong Nguyen explained that women and children are the most affected by the Boko Haram insurgency.
They observed that many of the children have been exploited as labourers, cooks, armour carriers and spies, while others were forcefully married and tortured.
“Every child is a potential solution to the challenges we face today including armed conflict.
Without a doubt, the spate of children surrendering to the military has rightfully elicited mixed reactions from various quarters. What is clear is that exploitation of these boys and girls by armed groups must stop, Phuong Nguyen said”.
The ceremony was attended by traditional and religious leaders as well United Nation agencies and Development Partners.
By Dauda Iliya