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UN negotiates release of 876 children at Nigerian detention centre

Published 28/10/2016

Thousands of children are said to have died in a detention centre in Nigeria
Thousands of children are said to have died in a detention centre in Nigeria

The United Nations has negotiated the release of 876 children detained at a Nigerian army barracks holding suspected collaborators of the Boko Haram Islamic extremist group.

The UN Children's Fund fears more children are at least temporarily detained at the barracks in the north-eastern city of Maiduguri, according to Manuel Fontaine, UNICEF's director for West and Central Africa.

This is the first reported negotiated release of children detained by the military.

The 876 children had been living in areas held by Boko Haram and were detained when those areas were liberated, Mr Fontaine said.

Amnesty International has said 8,000 detainees died in the barracks between 2011 and 2015. Amnesty has called for the detention centre's closure, saying babies and children are among the many detainees dying from disease, hunger, dehydration and untreated gunshot wounds.

The London-based human rights group also says President Muhammadu Buhari has failed to fulfil election promises in 2015 to halt abuse of civilians by Nigerian security forces

Ministry of Defense spokesman Brigadier General Rabe Abubakar has called Amnesty's charges "a distraction," insisting that "our duty is to protect lives, and that is what we have been doing".

Boko Haram's insurgency has killed more than 20,000 people and forced 2.6 million from their homes in less than a decade.

AP

Press Association

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