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Nigerian terrorist group Boko Haram’s use of child suicide bombers in Nigeria triples

The report notes that girls have been used in the majority of these attacks.

Boko Haram on Aug. 14, 2016, released a video of the girls allegedly kidnapped from Chibok in April 2014, showing some who are still alive and claiming others died in airstrikes. VOA

Geneva, April 12, 2017: The number of children used by the Nigerian terrorist group Boko Haram as suicide bombers tripled during the first three months of 2017 compared to the same period in 2016, the Unicef said in a report on Wednesday.

From January to March, 27 children were used in suicide attacks by the Islamist extremist group Boko Haram, which is active in Lake Chad region, compared to nine cases in the first quarter of 2016, according to the Unicef report ‘Silent Shame: Bringing out the voices of children caught in the Lake Chad crisis’, the Efe news agency reported.

Unicef said the increase reflects “an alarming tactic” by the insurgents.

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“In the first three months of this year, the number of children used in bomb attacks is nearly the same as the whole of last year — this is the worst possible use of children in conflict,” said Unicef’s Regional Director for West and Central Africa Marie-Pierre Poirier.

According to the report, 117 children have been used in the last four years to carry out bomb attacks in public places, including Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria: four in 2014, 56 in 2015, 30 in 2016, and 27 in the first three months of 2017.

The report notes that girls have been used in the majority of these attacks.

As a consequence, in addition to the death and destruction caused by the suicide bombings, children have been perceived as a threat by society.

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“These children are victims, not perpetrators,” Poirier emphasised.

Unicef revealed that many children who managed to escape Boko Haram keep their experience secret as they fear being stigmatised, while others are often held in prolonged custody by authorities as they are suspected of having ties with the terrorist group.

In the wake of this crisis, the organisation urged that children taken into custody for suspected links to armed groups should be immediately handed over to civilian authorities for reintegration, psychosocial support and safe spaces, so that they can recover. (IANS)

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Food Aid in Cameroon’s Refugee Camps Replaced by Mobile Money; Allow Women to Rely Less on Husbands

Aid agencies in Cameroon introduced the cash-based transfer program in 2016 to increase the efficiency of refugee support

cameroon, refugee, mobile money,
Hope endures for cameroonian refugees in Nigeria seeking to return home. VOA

In refugee camps in Cameroon, food aid has been replaced by mobile money payments.  The system allows refugees to choose what food they buy and allows women to rely less on their husbands in the mostly polygamous society.

Djenaba Abdoulaye, a Central African Republic refugee in eastern Cameroon, no longer has to ask her husband for rations of food aid. Instead, she does her weekly shopping with aid money for refugees that was transferred directly to her mobile phone.

Djenaba says the program helped her a lot by giving her a lot of capabilities.  As she is in a polygamous home of three women, her husband used to take food for all of the family and shared it among the three wives.  Now, she says, each wife has her phone, benefits from the assistance for her children and herself and uses it as she wants.

Aid agencies in Cameroon introduced the cash-based transfer program in 2016 to increase the efficiency of refugee support. Before the transfer program, only the head of a refugee household – usually the husband – received the monthly rations of oil, salt, sugar, beans, and cassava flour.

The mobile payment system is not unique to Cameroon. But for the mostly polygamous C.A.R. refugees, it has been empowering because every wife is treated as head of a household and receives a monthly allowance. Nana Amoah is head of the local World Food Program office.

“WFP is currently assisting just about 48,000 refugees via cash-based transfer and one of the main reasons why cash is becoming more and more important in the humanitarian context for WFP – it gives the beneficiary the choice of food selected in a food basket that (is) available,” said Amoah.

The WFP provides refugees with a mobile phone and SIM card that accesses an electronic portfolio to receive the monthly allowances.

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The electronic transfer of aid has also helped male refugees, like local shopkeeper Mama Lamine. He says the program allowed him to take care of himself and to solve the problems of his family.  Now he no longer depends on food assistance, says Lamine, and can take care of his children’s school fees and equip his house.

While limited by telecommunications, the use of mobile cash transfers is expected to grow and give more refugees choices about what they do with the aid they receive. (VOA)