UNITED NATIONS – The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) warned Tuesday that it has documented “an appalling increase” in the use of children, particularly girls, as “human bombs” in northeast Nigeria, noting that the number has risen to four times higher than in 2016.
The humanitarian program reported that, so far this year, 83 children have been used as human bombs – a preferable term to “suicide bomber” as the children are victims, not perpetrators of terrorism. Of those, 55 were girls, most of them under 15 years old.
Perhaps most shockingly, the agency documents an instance of a baby strapped to a girl, possibly to avoid authorities looking for bombers.
UNICEF cites Boko Haram, the dominant radical Islamic terrorist group in the region, as the group primarily, but not solely, responsible for the attacks.
The agency also notes that the bombs are used to target civilian populations, and as a result also creates “suspicion and fear of children who have been released, rescued or escaped from Boko Haram.”
“As a result, many children who have managed to get away from captivity face rejection when they try to reintegrate into their communities, compounding their suffering,” the agency said in a statement.
UNICEF says that it is attempting to help solve the situation by providing psychosocial support for children captured by the group and to help foster acceptance of children when they return to their families and communities.
In April, a UNICEF report documented that the use of child human bombs is a rising problem throughout the region. That report revealed that observers have documented 117 child attacks in the past three years “across Nigeria, Chad, Niger and Cameroon.”
This month, a Boko Haram splinter group kidnapped a Nigerian oil prospecting team, killing at least 37 people.
Boko Haram has killed more than 20,000 people and displaced some 2.7 million since 2009.
Adam Shaw is a Breitbart News politics reporter based in New York. Follow Adam on Twitter: @AdamShawNY.