The Federal government, together with the European Union (EU) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNOD), have launched the STRIVE Juvenile project in Nigeria to prevent and respond to violence against children by terrorist and violent extremist groups.
Through this new STRIVE action funded by the EU, UNODC and the Government of Nigeria will take action to develop coherent strategies that better serve and protect children by enhancing safe and resilient communities, in which human rights and the rule of law guide the approach to combating violent extremism.
Opening the meeting, the National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno represented by Rear Admiral YEM Musa, Head of Counter Terrorism Centre, ONSA stated that “the launch of the STRIVE Juvenile project provides an opportunity to demonstrate the firm commitment of the Nigerian Government to counter terrorism and highlights our efforts when it comes to preventing and countering violent extremism affecting children”.
In the past years, Nigeria has been gravely affected by child recruitment by terrorist and violent extremist groups. Under the framework of its ‘National Action Plan for Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism’, the Government of Nigeria provides a clear policy environment to develop interventions that promote stabilization, rehabilitation, and reintegration, in particular, in the most affected communities.
Child recruitment and exploitation is also a global threat, and especially so in recent years, as terrorist and violent extremist groups’ capacities to target children have reached far beyond countries affected by armed conflict. This phenomenon presents considerable regional, national, and even local variations. In line with the four pillars of the new EU’s Countering Terrorism Agenda: Anticipate, Prevent, Protect, and Respond, STRIVE Juvenile in Nigeria will aim at disrupting terrorist groups’ recruitment of children and promoting the rehabilitation and reintegration of children who have been associated with these groups, in collaboration with local communities.
Highlighting the European Union’s commitment to fight violence against children in all its forms, to protect children in vulnerable situations, and to promote child-friendly justice, Ms. Cécile Tassin-Pelzer, Head of Cooperation, Delegation of the European Union to the Federal Republic of Nigeria & ECOWAS, declared: “By seeking to address this issue and to rehabilitate and reintegrate these children, who have already suffered so much, back into society, Nigeria can set an important example to a region that continues to be gravely affected by this complex phenomenon.”
In turn, Ms. Alexandra Martins, Head of UNODC’s Global Programme to End Violence Against Children, stressed that “supporting effective prevention of child recruitment, investing in rehabilitation and reintegration efforts, and promoting justice responses adapted to children, and also to the context of counter-terrorism, present a unique set of challenges for national governments but also a great opportunity to strengthen conditions conducive to development and resilience towards violent extremism.”
As part of its general mission to contribute to the achievement of security and justice for all by making the world safer from crime, drugs, and terrorism, UNODC also has the specific mandate to support Member States in ensuring that children are better served and protected by justice systems and has been addressing specific efforts to increase the protection of children from terrorism and violent extremism, such as through the UNODC Roadmap on the treatment of these children. Drawing on its experience and under its Global Programme to End Violence Against Children, UNODC, as executing agency, has designed and will implement the STRIVE Juvenile’s intervention in cooperation with Nigeria and two other selected partner countries, Indonesia, and Iraq.
The launch of the STRIVE Juvenile Partnership between the European Union, UNODC and the Government of Nigeria will help in taking the fight against terrorism further by preventing and countering violent extremism affecting children, in full respect of human rights, gender equality and international law.