An increasing number of children are being killed and recruited by armed groups in Sahel’s tri-border area in Niger, Amnesty International said in a report on Sunday.
The report, titled “I Have Nothing Left Except Myself,” states that children are being killed and targeted for recruitment by armed groups near Niger’s borders with Mali and Burkina Faso.
Children of the conflict in Niger have been impacted by armed groups including Islamic State in the Greater Sahara, and the al Qaeda affiliated Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin. Both of these groups have committed war crimes and other abuses in the conflict. This has included the murder of civilians and targeting of schools, and many of these children are experiencing trauma after witnessing deadly attacks on their villages. Given the intensity of the violence and the level of organization from both of these groups, Amnesty considers the situation in Niger’s tri-border area non-international armed conflict since late 2019.
The report highlights the fact that since the start of 2021, the conflict at the border in Niger has worsened significantly and children have been killed as well as recruited to participate in hostilities. They have been deprived of the opportunity to go to school and have been forcibly displaced. In some areas, girls have faced restrictions on their ability to leave the home and have been forced to marry fighters.
Amnesty recommends the government of Niger ensure access to education for conflict-affected children by “prioritizing and funding measures to prevent, mitigate, and respond to attacks on and closing of schools including, for example, expanding support for schools in communities hosting displaced persons.”
They also recommend that the UN Secretary-General closely monitor the situation in Niger.