Nearly 1 in 5 Boko Haram suicide bombers is a child, U.N. says

 Nearly-1-in-5-Boko-Haram-suicide-bombers-is-a-child-UN-says.  NEW YORK,  The number of children Boko Haram has used as suicide bombers has increased ten fold in the past year to one in five bombings, the United Nations reported.

A student draws in a UNICEF coloring book during an art activity in a UNICEF child-friendly space in the Dar es Salaam camp in the Baga Sola area. A U.N. report estimates about 486,000 children in Borno and 242,000 in Yobe in northeastern Nigeria are suffering from Global Acute Malnutrition. UN file photo















Despite a military offensive against the Islamist terrorist group in the Lake Chad Basin, Boko Haram gunmen are still attacking civilians and military targets.

The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported last week that 44 children were involved in suicide bombings in 2015. More than 57 percent were girls, according to the U.N. Children’s Fund.

The most bombings by minors took place in Cameroon with 21 between January 2014 and February 2016, followed by Nigeria with 17 and Chad with 2.

Children are also suffering, the OCHA reports. The agency says about 486,000 children in Borno and 242,000 in Yobe in northeastern Nigeria have acute malnutrition. Specifically, about 73,000 children under 2 years old there urgently need ready-to-use supplementary nutritious foods. It also recommends food supplements for 27,000 pregnant and lactating mothers.

The report warns that an estimated 67,000 children aged 6 months to 5 years are likely to die in Borno and Yobe in 2016. The report warns that translates to 184 deaths every day.

Overall, about 3 million people do not have enough food to eat, the U.N. says.

OCHA noted that only 10 percent of the $535 million required to assist the affected populations across the region has been received.

“Societies have been torn apart by the conflict. It is important that in addition to military options a social strategies approach is also implemented through education, economics and socio-political avenues,” Martin Ewi of the Institute for Security Studies told the African News Agency.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon voiced concern over reported human rights abuses in the region during a summit in Abuja, Nigeria, on Saturday.

His message was delivered by Mohamed Ibn Chambas, special representative of the secretary-general and head of the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel.

“Respect for human rights is just one of the many essential elements of the comprehensive joint approach to tackle Boko Haram,” he said. “Governments, with the support of the international community and other partners, must support the communities and people affected by the conflict. They must also address the root causes that led to the emergence of violent extremism and terrorism in this region.

“The sustainable recovery of areas liberated from Boko Haram will require humanitarian and development aid, and long-term support to promote the rule of law, strengthen governance, ensure sustainable and inclusive development, and foster social cohesion. Many women and girls in this region have experienced serious abuse and trauma, and will need government help to recover. ”

More than 20,000 people have been killed by Boko Haram and 2.3 million displaced since the terrorist group began its violent campaign in 2009 to forge an Islamic caliphate in Nigeria.

Boko Haram was designated a foreign terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department in 2013.

By Allen Cone