Statement by the Chair of the Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict, H.E. Vanessa Frazier, Permanent Representative of Malta to the United Nations, on the field visit of the Working Group to Nigeria, 10th to 13th July 2023

Statement by the Chair of the Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict, H.E. Vanessa Frazier, Permanent Representative of Malta to the United Nations, on the field visit of the Working Group to Nigeria, 10th to 13th July 2023

Reference Number:  , Press Release Issue Date: Aug 04, 2023
 

Abuja, 13th July 2023 – Members of the UN Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict (CAAC), completed a 4-day mission to Nigeria, between 10th to 13th July. The delegation was led by the Chair of the Working Group, H.E. Vanessa Frazier, Permanent Representative of Malta to the United Nations, and included nine Security Council members Brazil, France, Ghana, Malta, Russian Federation, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, and the United States. Representatives of the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict and UNICEF also participated.


Established pursuant to Security Council resolution 1612 (2005), the Working Group has a mandate to review the reports of the UN Secretary-General and other pertinent information concerning grave violations against children affected by armed conflict around the world, and to make recommendations to Governments and other parties to armed conflict on such violations.


In line with its mandate, the Working Group undertook the visit to Nigeria with the following objectives: Review the progress made following Nigeria’s signature of the ‘Handover Protocol for Children Encountered in the Course of Armed Conflict in Nigeria and the Lake Chad Basin’ and encourage the government to fully implement it; encourage the government to fully implement the Safe Schools Declaration and to commit to endorsing the other instruments (Paris and Vancouver Principles); engage directly with government officials and other stakeholders, including civil society, and see how the Working Group can support durable and sustainable socio-economic reintegration of children exiting from armed groups; and to gain first-hand knowledge on the situation in the Northeast and the challenges children are facing in the Hajj camp and the Bulumkutu Interim Care Centre.


The visit further built on Nigeria’s engagement with the Working Group to end and prevent grave violations against children and took place in the context of continued violence and mass displacement of civilian populations, including children in the Northeast, due to the presence of armed groups namely Jama’aatu Ahlis Sunaa Lidda’awati wal-Jihad (JAS), Bakura, and Islamic state West Africa Province (ISWAP).


During the visit, the delegation visited Abuja and Maiduguri, Borno State, where they also visited the Hajj Camp and the Bulumkutu Interim Care Centre which accommodates people leaving areas controlled by armed groups.


The delegation met with senior government officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development, and the Office of the National Security Adviser. The delegation also met with the National Human Rights Commission, Protection Sector Group, and the Humanitarian Coordination Team in Maiduguri. They further engaged with the Co-Chairs of the United Nations Country Task Force for Monitoring and Reporting, the UN Country Team, UNICEF in Abuja, as well as with the Group of Friends of CAAC in Nigeria and the North-East Ambassadors Group. In these meetings, the delegation discussed measures already adopted and others undertaken to strengthen the protection of children in Nigeria, particularly in the Northeast. Members were informed of the overall challenges the country faces and were encouraged by the political commitment of the Nigerian government to work towards the protection of children affected by armed conflict. This includes the implementation of national legislation such as the Child’s Right Act, the implementation of the ‘Handover Protocol for Children Encountered in the Course of Armed Conflict in Nigeria and the Lake Chad Basin’, as well as Nigeria’s strong support to the Safe Schools Declaration. The delegation highlighted the importance of endorsing the Paris and Vancouver Principles and were reassured by the strong interest of the Government to do so.


Furthermore, the delegation emphasised the importance of implementing laws and policies adopted to protect children affected by conflict, reminded the need to always prioritise the best interests of the child, of treating all children primarily as victims, and stressed the need to continue developing reintegration programmes.

The delegation welcomed the recent formation of a Group of Friends of CAAC in Nigeria and encouraged the Group to follow up on the visit. Furthermore, the delegation encouraged donors to provide support to programmes and child protection related initiatives aimed at protecting children affected by armed conflict in Nigeria.


“The visit to Nigeria provided an important opportunity for closer engagement with the Federal Government of Nigeria and other relevant stakeholders to further advance the protection of children in armed conflict.  I thank the Government for their political commitment and willingness to engage, and further encourage them to continue working with the Security Council on the implementation of the CAAC agenda” said Ambassador Frazier.