By Bashir Hassan Abubakar
United Nations International Children’s Emergency Funds (UNICEF) Nigeria has condemned the deaths of three children in Borno State , North-East Nigeria, who were reportedly killed by unexploded remnants of bombs.
A press statement signed by Folashade Adebayo of UNICEF and made available to our correspondent said the avoidable deaths of the children – as young as 12 years – who were playing on Mblu Bridge in Ngala, is yet another sad reminder that children remain direct and indirect targets of the protracted conflict wracking north-east Nigeria.
The statement also that while three of the children lost their lives, three others are in critical conditions with two others who sustained mild injuries.
UNICEF lamented that in the 12 years of protracted conflict in the north-east, thousands of children in the region have been killed, maimed, abducted, displaced, and experienced multiple violations of their human rights, pointing out that UNICEF is deeply worried that conflict-affected children continue to be casualties of war.
“First of all, we extend our deepest and heartfelt sympathy to the families of the children killed. No family should have to go through this – and no child should fall victim to unexploded remnants of war while playing,” said Peter Hawkins, UNICEF Nigeria Representative.
The world body said that children are at particular risk from unexploded ordnance, which are small enough to pick up or kick around and which children can mistake for toys or objects of value. Such weapons account for over half of those killed or injured by landmines and other explosive remnants of war globally.
“These deaths are unacceptable. All sides to the ongoing conflict must protect children and prioritise their wellbeing at all times. Playing fields, schoolyards and communities must be safe and habitable for children,’’ said Peter Hawkins.
“Children’s lives should not be at stake in a conflict they didn’t start. We must address the shrinking safe spaces for children and ensure that children – especially those already affected by conflict – are protected and have a chance to survive and fulfill their potential.”