Armed Groups Kill And Recruit Children in Niger
Amnesty International reported that armed groups are killing and recruiting children in Niger, especially at the border with Mali and Burkina Faso.
An increasing number of children are being killed and recruited by armed groups in Niger, especially in the border areas with Burkina Faso and Mali, where armed groups have doubled their attacks in recent months, Amnesty International reported today.
"In Niger's Tillaberi region, an entire generation is growing up surrounded by death and destruction. Armed groups have repeatedly attacked schools and food stores; these groups are targeting children to be recruited," said Amnesty's Assistant Director Wat Wells.
On Monday, Amnesty International released a 57-page report on the growing consequences of the conflict for children in the Tillaberi region.
The tri-border area witnesses frequent attacks by ISIS in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) and the al-Qaida-affiliated Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin (JNIM).
According to the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project on which Amnesty's report is based, acts of violence against civilians in Niger killed 544 people between January 1 and July 29, 2021, compared to 397 in 2020.
Amnesty reported the killing of about 60 children in the tri-border area, based on testimonies of boys who had survived an ISIS attack.
A boy who witnessed the killing of his 12-year-old friend in March recounted, "At one point, Abdoulwahab Wahab stopped to talk to the [fighters]. They shot him in the side, and he died shortly after."
Another child cited Wahab’s last words - What have I done? - he then said, "I remember his words well."
A third boy, also a friend of Wahab, said "I think of Wahab and how he was killed. Sometimes I have nightmares of being chased by people on motorbikes or seeing Wahab pleading with the [attackers] again."
Although the report accuses ISIS in the Greater Sahara of committing the most significant part of the large-scale massacres, the organization also condemns the recruitment of boys between the ages of 15 and 17, mostly by the al-Qaida-affiliated JNIM, especially in the Torodi province near Burkina Faso.
Many attacks also target schools, according to Amnesty, which indicates that more than 31,000 children have dropped out of school, an increase of 10,000 children from last year.
"Niger is on the brink of an abyss," warned Matt Wells, Amnesty International’s Crisis Response Deputy Director. "Nigerian authorities and international partners must take urgent measures to protect children and secure their rights."
Earlier, gunmen attacked a village in southwestern Niger, killing at least 16 people as part of repeated operations that killed more than 420 civilians in 2021.