At 15, Fati (name changed to protect identity) has witnessed more violence than most people ever will. She spent four months in a forced marriage after being abducted by Boko Haram. Thankfully, she was rescued and reunited with her family in a refugee camp in Cameroon.
UNICEF is working with communities and families in Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon and Niger to fight stigma against survivors of sexual violence and to build a protective environment for former abductees.
5. Forced recruitment into violent forces
In 2015, the estimated number of bomb attacks in North-East Nigeria and neighbouring countries increased sharply, as did the proportion of attacks involving children.
The use of children – especially girls – as so-called suicide bombers has now become one of the defining, and most alarming, features of the conflict. In just one year, the number of children involved in so-called ‘suicide’ attacks in Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger has risen tenfold. Three quarters of all child ‘suicide’ bombers are girls.
Children who carry out these attacks are victims, not perpetrators. Bombs are strapped to their bodies - often without them knowing - and detonated remotely in public places.
In 2015, UNICEF provided over 145,000 children affected by the conflict with counselling and psychosocial support to help them cope with emotional distress.
6. Maiming and death
Trapped in violence, children across North East Nigeria, Chad, Niger and Cameroon are missing out on their childhood every day. They are at risk of being caught in a cycle of violence – separated from their families, exposed to exploitation, abuse and recruitment by armed groups and held in detention. Many children have been killed, maimed and subjected to unimaginable atrocities.