Inauguration of the Group of Friends (GOF) of Children and Armed Conflict (CAAC) in Nigeria
ABUJA, 7 December 2022 – Representatives from thirteen Member States and two regional organizations convened on 30 November in Abuja to launch the first ever Group of Friends of children and armed conflict (GOF CAAC) for Nigeria.
The Group, which is co-chaired by the High Commissioner of Canada in Nigeria, and the Ambassador of Norway to Nigeria, is an important platform to share information on the impact of conflict on children, raise awareness, support fundraising initiatives, and undertake joint strategic advocacy actions to prevent and end grave violations against children in Nigeria.
This informal platform will allow the members of the local diplomatic community to place issues faced by children affected by conflict in Nigeria on the political, humanitarian, development and peace agenda and to develop collective efforts to enhance the protection of children in the country.
The GOF CAAC reaffirms that the protection of children must be central in the ongoing response to the situation of children affected by armed conflict in North-East Nigeria, including through the continuity of child-centred services such as mental health and psychosocial support, comprehensive reintegration programs that are gender and age-sensitive, and unimpeded humanitarian access to all children in need.
The GOF CAAC welcomes the bold commitment made by the Federal Government of Nigeria in signing the Handover Protocol for Children encountered in the course of armed conflict in Nigeria and the Lake Chad Basin Region in September 2022 and providing continued support to recovery and stabilization efforts in the North-East of the country. The Group calls upon the Government to implement this important Protocol without undue delay.
It is worth noting that the members of the GOF CAAC made a clarion call for all parties to the armed conflict to fully comply with their obligations under the International Humanitarian Law, Human Rights Law, and Refugee Law, to prevent and end grave violations against children once and for all in Nigeria.
Mr. James Christoff, High Commissioner of Canada, also serving as Chair of the GOF CAAC, said “when it comes to children affected by armed conflict, we cannot accept the status quo. We believe the Group of Friends will ensure that their protection remains on everyone’s minds, and welcome all Member States to join in this effort towards ending grave violations of children’s rights. Working together, we can make a difference”.
Mr. Knut Eiliv Lein, the Ambassador of Norway, said “the protection of civilians, including children is a priority for the Government of Norway. How children are protected in conflict has an impact on the prospects for peace and reconciliation, return, and reconstruction and for preventing future conflicts. The Government of Norway will continue to work and take concrete measures that will contribute to the practical implementation of the Conclusions of the 2022 UN Security Council Working Group for Children and Armed Conflict in Nigeria”.
The United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Mr. Matthias Schmale said “the Group of Friends in Nigeria will advance the protection of children and calls for the urgent scale-up of both the prevention and response measure to address grave violations against children in the north-east of Nigeria”.
The UNICEF Representative in Nigeria, Ms. Cristian Munduate said “the inauguration of the Group of Friends of children and armed conflict is a testament of the commitment of members of the local diplomatic community in prioritising the situation of children affected by armed conflict. By putting children on the political, humanitarian, development, and peace agenda, and by mobilising collective efforts to enhance the protection of children in the country, we are giving them renewed hope for a better and safer life”.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children in Nigeria, visit www.unicef.org/nigeria