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Boko Haram and the Recruitment of Children

Expert Briefing

12 November 2020


Cecilia Polizzi, Founding President/CEO at CRTG Working Group


Dr. Atta Barkindo, Executive Director at Kukah Center

Boko Haram is among the most gruesome and savage terrorist organizations worldwide. An ISIS-aligned jihadist group in Nigeria and active in Cameroon, Chad, and Niger, Boko Haram promotes a Salafist-jihadist brand of Islam and seeks to establish a caliphate, or Islamic state, in the region. In its quest for power and control, and since its very establishment, Boko Haram has made the exploitation of children a part of its military strategy and common practice. Since two thousands and nine, about 8000 children have been recruited and used by the group, both boys and girls, as young as eleven years of age, as foot soldiers, spies and suicide bombers. Boko Haram has carried out regular attacks on primary and secondary schools. It has shot and burned to death 59 boys at a secondary school in Yobe State. It has abducted 276 girls in Chibok, Borno State.  It has threatened and intimidated teachers and students to keep them from going to school. The most recent report of the Secretary General on Children in Armed Conflict, reports that in the January-December 2019 period alone, Boko Haram has killed and maimed a total of 120 children between the ages of 11 and 17. It has perpetrated sexual violence against 30 girls, between the ages of 12 and 16, including 23 who were abducted and subsequently raped or forcibly married to Boko Haram elements. It has abducted of 44 children and denied humanitarian access in 17 different occasions. In addition, as we speak, thousands of children, some as young as five, remain in military detention for their alleged association with the group.

Shaping Futures

@2023 CRTG Working Group

New York City

Working Group on Children Recruited 

by Terrorist and Violent Extremist Groups Corp. 

EIN 30:1232924

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