From Africa to Europe, Children Are Victims of War
February 1, 2016
Jason Ditz / Anti-War.com & The Associated Press & Margaret Griffis / AntioWar.com & Al Jazeera and Agencies
A Boko Haram attack has destroyed a Nigerian village, leaving many civilians -- including children -- burned to death. Inside Iraq, ISIS attacks have included killings of children and youth. Meanwhile, more than 10,000 children fleeing wars in their homelands have disappeared, raising fears they are being exploited, says Europol, Europe's police agency.
Boko Haram Kills 86 in Fire-Bombing of Nigeria Village
Jason Ditz / Anti-War.com
NIGERIA (January 31, 2016) – Survivors are reporting a group of Boko Haram attacked the village of Dalori on Saturday night, firebombing huts and burning a good chunk of the village down, leaving scores of civilians burned to death, many of them children.
The village is just three miles outside of Maiduguri, a major northeastern city, yet nearly four hours of attacks before the Nigerian military finally managed to get enough troops with heavy weapons into the area to fight them off, as their first dispatch to the village was quickly overwhelmed.
At least 86 bodies have been recovered from the scene, and another 62 are recovering from serious burns. Such attacks on undefended villages across northeastern Nigeria have become common for Boko Haram, as a way to show up the military for its inability to fend them off.
Such attacks have fueled a massive exodus of refugees from areas deemed to be likely Boko Haram targets, with millions displaced in the region. The Nigerian government has repeatedly claimed the war against Boko Haram is well in hand, and has at times even claimed the group is already "defeated.
Boko Haram in Nigeria Kills at Least 86, Burns Children
The Associated Press
DALORI, Nigeria (January 31, 2016) -- survivor hidden in a tree says he watched Boko Haram fighters firebomb huts and heard the screams of children burning to death, among 86 people officials say died in the latest attack by Nigeria's homegrown armed group.
Scores of charred corpses and bodies with bullet wounds littered the streets from Saturday night's attack on Dalori village and two nearby camps housing 25,000 refugees, according to survivors and soldiers at the scene just 3 miles from Maiduguri, the birthplace of Boko Haram and the biggest city in Nigeria's northeast.
The shooting, burning and explosions from three suicide bombers continued for nearly four hours in the unprotected area, survivor Alamin Bakura said, weeping on a telephone call to The Associated Press. He said several of his family members were killed or wounded.
The violence continued as three female suicide bombers blew up among people who managed to flee to neighboring Gamori village, killing many people, according to a soldier at the scene who insisted on anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to journalists.
Troops arrived at Dalori around 8:40 p.m. Saturday but were unable to overcome the attackers, who were better armed, said soldiers who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the press. The Boko Haram fighters only retreated after reinforcements arrived with heavier weapons, they said.
Journalists visited the carnage Sunday and spoke to survivors who complained it had taken too long for help to arrive from nearby Maiduguri, the military headquarters of the fight to curb Boko Haram. They said they fear another attack.
Eighty-six bodies were collected by Sunday afternoon, according to Mohammed Kanar, area coordinator of the National Emergency Management Agency. Another 62 people are being treated for burns, said Abba Musa of the State Specialist Hospital in Maiduguri.
Boko Haram has been attacking soft targets, increasingly with suicide bombers, since the military last year drove them out of towns and villages in northeastern Nigeria.
The 6-year uprising has killed about 20,000 people and driven 2.5 million from their homes.
ISIS Executing Children; 182 Killed Across Iraq
Margaret Griffis / AntioWar.com
(January 31, 2016) – Low oil prices are affecting Iraq's economy to a degree that unwelcome changes will be forced on the populace. Baghdad and Arbil have both agreed to cooperate on reforms. The budgetary distress will not hamper, however, the effort against the Islamic State militants because of support from the Coalition.
Human Rights Watch blamed Shi'ite militias for revenge attacks on civilians in Muqdadiya early in January. The attacks came a day after a Daesh bombing that targeted the militiamen. Some of the actions taken way constitute war crimes.
Violence left at least 182 dead and nine wounded:
In Mosul, militants executed 17 members of two families, including children, for trying to flee Daesh territory. An airstrike killed four militants including a health minister. Gunmen killed a Daesh official and his companion.
In Baghdad, a civilian was gunned down. A bomb killed two people and wounded nine more.
Three children were executed in Shirqat for insulting Daesh. At least three more young people were executed.
In Sajariya, security forces killed 30 militants. Airstrikes killed another fourteen.
Airstrikes killed 34 militants in Badush.
Strikes on Riyadh left 32 militants dead.
Security forces killed 15 militants in Albu Shejil.
In Husayba, nine militants were killed.
Six militants were killed in a failed attack on Haditha.
A bomb accidentally exploded, killing five militants in Baghdadi.
Five militants were killed in Nuaimiya.
More than 10,000 Refugee Children Missing in Europe
Al Jazeera and Agencies
(January 31, 2016) -- More than 10,000 unaccompanied refugee and migrant children have disappeared in Europe, the EU police agency Europol said on Sunday, fearing many have been whisked into sex trafficking rings or the slave trade.
Europol's press office confirmed to Al Jazeera the figures published in British newspaper The Observer. The number relates to the last 18-24 months.
The agency's chief of staff Brian Donald said the vulnerable children had disappeared from the system after registering with state authorities following their arrival in Europe.
"It's not unreasonable to say that we're looking at 10,000-plus children," Donald told The Observer, adding that 5,000 had disappeared in Italy alone.
"Not all of them will be criminally exploited; some might have been passed on to family members. We just don't know where they are, what they're doing or whom they are with."
Donald said there was evidence of a "criminal infrastructure" established since mid-2014 to exploit the refugee flow.
The Observer reported that Europol found evidence of links between smuggling rings bringing people into the EU and human trafficking gangs exploiting migrants for sex and slavery.
"There are prisons in Germany and Hungary where the vast majority of people arrested and placed there are in relation to criminal activity surrounding the migrant crisis," Donald said.
Over one million migrants and refugees, many fleeing the Syria conflict, crossed into Europe last year. "Whether they are registered or not, we're talking about 270,000 children," Donald told the paper.
"Not all of those are unaccompanied, but we also have evidence that a large proportion might be," he said, adding that the 10,000 is likely to be a conservative estimate. He said many of the children are "visible", and not "spirited away and held in the middle of forests".
'Invisible to authorities'
Raffaela Milano, Save the Children's Italy-Europe programme director, said that "unaccompanied minors who travel without adults are the most vulnerable group of the migratory flow".
"Many minors, in fact, make themselves 'invisible' to the authorities to enable them to continue their journey in Europe, for fear of being sent back," she said.
Many children arrive first on the Greek islands before making the journey to relatives across Europe.
Laura Pappa, president of the Greek charity Meta-Action, a group accompanying children who travel without relatives, said they "face a destiny that is worse than that of the rest of migrants waiting to be relocated".
She said they often have to wait for around seven months to be reunited with relatives, and that procedures can be slow and complicated. "There are some people that present themselves as uncles and take the children. It's not easy in this mess to cross check the identity of the 'uncle'." Pappa said the group has helped 3,000 children reach family, but that it "is not enough".
Britain is one country that has said it will take in migrant or refugee children who have been separated from their parents.
Despite the constant risk of death and deportation, refugees continue to stream into Europe, risking their lives to escape poverty, repression and conflict.
Many children are among the refugees and migrants who have lost their lives making the perilous crossing in the Mediterranean.
In the latest tragedy, the Turkish coastguard recovered the bodies of women and children were washed up on a beach after their boat sank, leaving at least 37 people dead.
Tensions are escalating across the continent over the increasing numbers of refugees, with many right-wing groups in Europe calling for more immigration restrictions and tighter borders.
On Saturday, Swedish police said dozens of masked men believed to belong to neo-Nazi gangs gathered in Stockholm and handed out leaflets calling for attacks against young unaccompanied migrants.
In England on Saturday, anti-fascist and far-right protesters, pro and anti welcoming refugees respectively, clashed in the coastal town of Dover.
Similar clashes erupted in a southern German town on Friday, where unknown assailants threw a hand grenade into a refugee shelter. More than one million asylum entered the country last year.
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