Undetonated bomb abandoned by Boko Haram long ago explodes, kills 3 children in Borno

UNICEF says incident raises more concerns over children’s safety

Undetonated bomb abandoned by Boko Haram long ago explodes, kills 3 children in Borno

Three children had lost their lives and two others sustained injuries as a bomb believed to have been abandoned by suspected members of the armed opposition group exploded in Ngala village of Borno state.

The bomb was planted under a bridge in Ngala, austensibly to bring it down, but failed to go off a long time ago. The insurgents had at the height of their territorial occupation used many belligerent strategies including planting landmines and blowing down highway bridges as a mundane way of securing their territories and warding off government forces.

Security sources and some repentant insurgents had testified that hundreds of landmines have been planted which can no longer be accounted for because the masterminds were either killed or had relocated to other locations.

Last week over 30,000 IDPs from Kukawa local government area of Borno state had been ferried in nearly 40 buses to Kross-Kauwa village to resume living in their homes many years after being forced to flee by the insurgents.

The Borno state government has recently geared up its effort at relocating internally displaced persons (IDPs) to Borno state with a view to return normal lives and civil presence in the so called liberated communities.

The United Nations has raised deep worries over the safety of children in remote hinterlands of Borno and other parts of northeast Nigeria as an abandoned landmine planted by suspected members of the armed opposition group exploded on Saturday and killed three innocent children.

The UN system had in a statement confirmed that children “as young as 12 years – who were playing on Mblu Bridge in Ngala,” were killed by the forgotten explosives.

The United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) in a statement released on Saturday that the incident is “yet another sad reminder that children remain direct and indirect targets of the protracted conflict wracking north-east Nigeria.

“While three children have sadly lost their lives, three others are in critical conditions while two other children sustained mild injuries,” UNICEF’s Representative in Nigeria, Peter Hawkins, said.

“First of all, we extend our deepest and heartfelt sympathy to the families of the children killed. No family should have to go through this – and no child should fall victim to unexploded remnants of war while playing.

Mr Hawkins said Children are at particular risk from unexploded ordnance, which are small enough to pick up or kick around, and which children can mistake for toys or objects of value.

He said such weapons account for over half of those killed or injured by landmines and other explosive remnants of war globally.

“These deaths are unacceptable. All sides to the ongoing conflict must protect children and prioritize their wellbeing at all times. Playing fields, schoolyards and communities must be safe and habitable for children,’’ said Peter Hawkins.

“Children’s lives should not be at stake in a conflict they didn’t start. We must address the shrinking safe spaces for children and ensure that children – especially those already affected by conflict – are protected and have a chance to survive and fulfill their potential.”

Since Boko Haram began the seizure of territories and forcing inhabitants to flee into IDP camps, abandoned communities and their neighborhoods have been turned into garrisons of terror where all kinds of ordinance including landmines are buried as booby traps. Many of these explosives have not detonated as they lay ominous waiting to be accidentally triggered.

As the Borno IDPs return home finally, they would have to resume farming activities in the bushes around them. And the big question that The Humanitarian Times reporter has not found answers is how safe are the farmlands in a post war Borno?

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