The European Union (EU), the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the Nigerian Governmental and Non-Governmental actors have called for a cease in deployment of children in the ongoing terror war on the country.
This was the decision at the occasion of the 1st National Roundtable (13 July) and the 1st Steering Committee Meeting (14 July) within the STRIVE Juvenile project in Nigeria to address the issue of children’s recruitment by terrorist and violent extremist groups
During the National Roundtable conducted by UNODC under the guidance of the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), the participants validated the findings of the Situation Analysis related to the issue of children recruitment and exploitation by terrorist and violent extremist groups.
According to a statement on Friday by the Communications Associate of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Ms. Olivia Okorondu, these findings assessed key opportunities related to the main challenges, the cooperation among the various sectors involved, and the strategic areas of potential technical assistance, to enhance national capacities and mechanisms that will ensure the prevention of children recruitment and exploitation, the rehabilitation and reintegration of children who have been recruited and exploited, and the security and justice responses.
The statement quoted the Coordinator, Counter Terrorism Centre, Office of the National Security Advisor, Rear Admiral Y.E.M Musa to have said that: “Through the Situation Analysis, the development of a better understanding of existing institutional and social structures which exist at national and local levels to address the issue of children’s recruitment by terrorist and violent extremist groups, is key to boost the national ownership drive towards the implementation of STRIVE Juvenile.”
Okorondu disclosed that in one of the days, the EU, the UNODC, the Nigerian Government and national stakeholders met within the 1st Steering Committee Meeting, which constitutes the primary national level governance mechanism to ensure continued dialogue, optimized coordination and sustainable national ownership within the STRIVE Juvenile project.
She said this meeting was also the occasion to endorse the workplan based on the outcome of the Roundtable, noting that during the project implementation process, the Steering Committee plays a key role as a forum for project stakeholders to guide, follow-up, and monitor progress.
She said: “It is also intended to foster confidence between the partner country, key national stakeholders and UNODC in order to develop strong locally buy-in of STRIVE Juvenile, build on national visions, strategies, and frameworks, to prevent and counter terrorism and violent extremism affecting children.
Cooperation Officer, Delegation of the European Union to the Federal Republic of Nigeria and ECOWAS, Jérôme Rivière was quoted to have said: “Establishing national level governance mechanisms and credible platforms for dialogue at all levels, such as the Steering Committee Meeting, remains crucial to enhance national ownership and enables STRIVE Juvenile partners to set up viable and sustainable project infrastructure and architecture operating at the federal, state and local level.”
UNODC Country Representative, Oliver Stolpe however stated that: “The EU and the Government of Nigeria are key partners for UNODC to uphold the rule of law and the rights of children in line with the Office Strategic Vision for Africa 2030. With STRIVE Juvenile we welcome the opportunity to work together to protect children from terrorist and violent extremist groups.”
All participants agreed on the fact that sustaining the project implementation through national ownership requires a greater focus on coordination among all actors and integrating planning and management operations surely enshrined in the STRIVE Juvenile project design.
The Roundtable and the Steering Committee Meeting are co-sponsored by the European Union, the Government of Nigeria and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.