Human rights group Amnesty has called on the government to take immediate action, warning of “child abuse”.
An increasing number of children are being killed and abducted in Niger as clashes in the western region of Tillaberi, on the border between Mali and Burkina Faso, escalated, a civil rights movement on Monday.
“Niger is on the mountain. In some parts of the country a growing generation is surrounded by death and destruction, “Amnesty International’s Matt Wells said in a 57-page publication reports.
“The Nigerian government and its international partners must take immediate action to monitor and prevent further abuse in the Tillaberi region and to protect the rights of all those affected by the conflict – especially children.”
A London-based civil rights group has blamed Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) and al-Qaeda-linked Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin (JNIM) for destroying the “children” area.
According to the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED), cited by Amnesty, violence against civilians resulted in 544 deaths related to conflicts between January and August, out of 397 people killed in the same period in 2020.
The report says armed groups have killed more than 60 children in the Niger border region by 2021, adding that ISGS appears to be behind the killings.
Amnesty spoke to 16 young men who survived the terrorist attacks. “We were both used to hearing gunshots and to seeing [dead] the people went up to the top [dead] people, ”a child under the age of 20 told a liberal group.
A young man, who witnessed the murder of his 12-year-old friend in March, said: “I think of Wahab and how he was killed. Sometimes I dream of being chased by people on a motorcycle or seeing Wahab begging. [attackers] again. ”
The report also found that since June, the dispute has forced at least 377 schools in Tillaberi to close, affecting more than 31,700 students. That figure represents more than 100 schools and about 10,000 students from schools since November 2020.
‘We Have Been Left Behind’
The ISGS, Amnesty has announced, has emerged in the last three years as a militant group along the Niger-Mali border that grabs the poor and oppressed.
Meanwhile, on the border with Burkina Faso, JNIM has intensified its work since last year with a strong focus on boys and girls, the report said.
Such forces, Amnesty said, have found it easier to work along the Niger border since they have been evacuated by government forces.
“First, we call FDS [Niger’s armed forces] but now he can stay for two days and never come back, ”said a 50-year-old man from Torodi, near the Burkina Faso border. We are abandoned. ”
Without “urgent action” by the government and international partners to prevent further abuse, Amnesty warned, “the situation of children and the general public could deteriorate further, while the military has already used the lack of government to commit atrocities”.