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Reintegrating women and children liberated from Boko Haram ‘essential’ to peace, say UN experts

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CSBS news desk
Three United Nations human rights experts have called on the Government of Nigeria to assist in the rehabilitation and reintegration of women and children who escaped or were liberated from Boko Haram captivity.
“As the region transits from relief to recovery, it is important to ensure that rehabilitation and reintegration measures are grounded in human rights norms and take into consideration the impact of the regional conflict on women and children,” said the UN Special Rapporteurs; Maud de Boer-Buquicchio, Urmila Bhoola, Dainius Puras, at the end of an official visit to Nigeria.
“These measures must aim to fundamentally transform society for the better while addressing the immediate needs of women and girls,” the experts stressed. “They must also address root causes especially discrimination, deprivation, exclusion and gender inequality.”
The Special Rapporteurs commended the initiatives taken so far by the Government, but cautioned that “gaps remain in implementing policies and enforcing laws in a manner that makes a real difference in the lives of all, especially women and children affected by the insecurity and violence in the Northeast.”
Noting the progress made in the management of internally displaced persons (IDPs) camps, they called for further efforts to ensure that reintegration and rehabilitation programmes leave no one behind, wherever they may have settled. “In particular, health systems must be strengthened, so as to meet the physical and mental health needs of both the displaced and the host communities,” the experts stated.
“During our visits to camps in Maiduguri, we witnessed first-hand the health and social impacts of the conflict. We met with women and girls who reported limited access to services including adequate nutritious food, psychosocial support, education, and health including sexual and reproductive services,” they said.
The Special Rapporteurs called on the Government and international partners to provide skills development and livelihood opportunities in order to ensure economic empowerment and secure access to decent work. “This will go a long way in ensuring IDPs have the necessary skills and the opportunities to re-build their lives as well as integrate in their former or new communities,” they noted.
During their five-day official visit to Nigeria, the human rights experts met with representatives from various Ministries, the Parliament and other public bodies, as well as civil society and relevant UN agencies. They also visited IDP camps and the De-radicalization Programme, and met with some of the parents of the missing Chibok girls.
The Special Rapporteurs will present a report on this visit to the UN Human Rights Council in the course of 2016.

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