As it torments West Africa, the world’s deadliest terror outfit Boko Haram exerting its top heel to spread terror by increasingly turning children as suicide bombers.
It is matter of deep concern that according to a report by UNICEF, One of every five suicide bombers deployed by Boko Haram in the past two years found to be a child, usually a girl, . Earlier last year, Boko Haram used 44 children in suicide attacks, while it was only four in 2014. Shockingly the youngest bomber so far was around 8 years old.
The report seeks to quantify one of the major elements of Boko Haram, an Islamist extremist group that has assaulted the Lake Chad region of Africa for years with act of thievery, beheadings, kidnappings and the displacing people from their homes. The group has brutally taken thousands of lives and caused a food crisis in the entire region.
Toby Lanzer, the United Nations humanitarian coordinator for that region, said that Boko Haram‘s use of children as suicide bombers “really beggars belief.”
“To me that’s the epitome of evil,” Mr. Lanzer told reporters during a briefing at the United Nations headquarters in New York about his recent trip to northeastern Nigeria. “I cannot think of anything more horrifying.”
Earlier two years ago the group abducted nearly 300 girls from a school in Chibok, Nigeria. Several dozen escaped early on, but many of them are still missing. According to Intelligence officials they are being used as human shields for Boko Haram leaders hiding in the Sambisa Forest in northeastern Nigeria.
Last year, the Nigerian military launched a offensive against Boko Haram, and the initiative has been supported by four other nations in the region as well as the United States, which is offering intelligence and other assistance. Militants who once controlled numerous villages have been scattered.
Unable to control as much terrain as in the past, the group has deployed suicide bombers to markets and mosques and even camps where people fleeing Boko Haram have taken refuge. According to Unicef, the overall number of suicide bombings increased from 32 in 2014 to 151 last year. In 2015, 89 terror strikes were carried out in Nigeria, 39 in Cameroon, 16 in Chad and seven in Niger.
Cameroon has sustained the highest number of attacks involving children, Unicef said. Government and defense officials in Cameroon have said most of the attackers are found to be girls ages between 13 to 15. People who have escaped from Boko Haram informed that a systematic program is run for training women and girls to be bombers.
In its report, UNICEF said it required $97 million to provide vaccinations, schooling, drinking water, mental health aid and other assistance to families which are aggrieved by activities of Boko Haram‘. It said it had received $11 million so far. The report also noted that more than 1.3 million children had been displaced from their homes.