Anti-Boko Haram militia frees 900 children in Nigeria

It was not clear how many children remain in its ranks. (File/AFP)
Updated 10 May 2019

Anti-Boko Haram militia frees 900 children in Nigeria

  • The 894 children, including 106 girls, had been in the ranks of the government-backed Civilian Joint Task Force, a local militia that supports Boko Haram
  • The children freed on Friday bring the total released since then to 1,727 children, UNICEF said

MAIDURUGI, Nigeria: Nearly 900 children held by a pro-government militia force fighting Boko Haram insurgents in northeastern Nigeria were freed on Friday, the UN said.
The 894 children, including 106 girls, had been in the ranks of the government-backed Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF), a local militia which supports regular soldiers battling the extremist insurgents.
At a ceremony in the northeastern town of Maiduguri, they were released as part of the CJTF’s “commitment to end and prevent the recruitment and use of children,” the UN children’s agency (UNICEF) said.
“Children of north-east Nigeria have borne the brunt of this conflict,” said UNICEF chief in Nigeria Mohamed Fall.
“They have been used by armed groups in combatant and non-combatant roles and witnessed death, killing and violence.”
The CJTF is a militia formed in 2013 to protect communities from attack, but it has also recruited hundreds of children.
In 2017, the militia signed a promise to stop recruiting child soldiers and release the ones they hold.
The children freed on Friday bring the total released since then to 1,727 children, UNICEF said.
It was not clear how many children remain in its ranks, but the UN welcomed the news on Friday.
“Any commitment for children that is matched with action is a step in the right direction for the protection of children’s rights, and must be recognized and encouraged,” Fall said.
The freed children will be enrolled into a reintegration program with education and training to help them return to civilian life.
Boko Haram’s decade-long uprising to establish a hard-line group in Nigeria’s northeast has spilled into neighboring Niger, Chad and Cameroon.
The militants have also recruited thousands of children to fight in their ranks.
“We will continue until there is no child left in the ranks of all armed groups in Nigeria,” Fall said, noting that children “have been abducted, maimed, raped and killed.”


UK’s Boris Johnson likens himself to The Incredible Hulk

Updated 15 September 2019

UK’s Boris Johnson likens himself to The Incredible Hulk

  • Johnson said he will meet the Oct. 31 deadline no matter what
  • “The madder Hulk gets, the stronger Hulk gets,” he told the Mail

LONDON: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has compared himself to The Incredible Hulk in a newspaper interview emphasizing his determination to take Britain out of the European Union next month.
Johnson faces considerable legal and political hurdles but told the Mail on Sunday he will meet the Oct. 31 deadline no matter what.
“The madder Hulk gets, the stronger Hulk gets,” he told the widely read tabloid, invoking the comic book and film character known for formidable but destructive strength.
Johnson remains defiant even though Parliament has passed a law requiring him to seek an extension to the deadline if no deal is reached by mid-October. He has also lost his working majority in Parliament and been told by Scotland’s highest court that his decision to suspend Parliament was illegal.
Johnson portrays himself as more convinced than ever that Britain will break with the EU at the end of October.
He will have a lunchtime meeting in Luxembourg on Monday with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker to try to modify the Irish backstop that has been a main sticking point, but EU leaders did not seem impressed by Johnson’s invocation of the Hulk.
The European Parliament’s Brexit coordinator, Guy Verhofstadt, said the comments showed a lack of maturity.
“Even to Trumpian standards the Hulk comparison is infantile,” he tweeted. “Is the EU supposed to be scared by this? The British public impressed?“
Juncker, who has downplayed hopes of a breakthrough at Monday’s meeting, also expressed alarm that many people in Britain seem to feel a British departure without a deal with the EU would be a positive thing.
“It would be terrible chaos,” he said in an interview with Germany’s Deutschlandfunk radio. “And we would need years to put things back in order. Anyone who loves his country, and I assume that there are still patriots in Britain, would not want to wish his country such a fate.”
The Oct. 31 deadline looms large because Johnson has not said he will seek another extension if no deal is reached, despite legislation passed by Parliament shortly before it was suspended.
Britain’s Supreme Court this week will rule on whether Johnson overstepped the law when he shut the legislature for a crucial five-week period.
The Liberal Democrats, who have been enjoying a revival, voted overwhelmingly at their party conference Sunday to end the Brexit process entirely if they come to power.
Party leader Jo Swinson said Article 50, which triggered Brexit, would be revoked if she becomes prime minister.
The party gained an important member Saturday with the defection of Sam Gyimah, a former Conservative minister. He is the sixth legislator to switch allegiance and join the Liberal Democrats this year.
Johnson also continues to take flak from former Prime Minister David Cameron, who called the 2016 referendum on Brexit.
Cameron said in an interview published Sunday that Johnson didn’t really believe in Brexit when he broke ranks and led the campaign to take Britain out of the EU. Cameron had been expecting Johnson’s help during the hard-fought campaign.
Cameron says of Johnson: “The conclusion I am left with is that he risked an outcome he didn’t believe in because it would help his political career.”
Cameron is giving interviews to gain publicity for his upcoming memoirs.