Children living in conflict zones in the Central Sahel region across Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger are facing a greater risk of illegal recruitment by non-state armed groups on a drive to attract young people.
This is after thousands of schools closed in the past two years due to increasing violence and COVID-19.
A new reportcommissioned by Save the Children and published by the Migration Studies and Research Group found a growing number of factors in the Central Sahel region were driving children into conflict at an alarming rate.
Interviews in 23 locations with young people formerly involved in armed groups, local authorities and other decision makers found some children were forcefully recruited into conflict, others driven by poverty, while some felt the need to fulfil a religious duty, or for security and protection.
But some were attracted by promises of pay, phones, or motorbikes by non-state armed groups.
Eric Hazard is the Pan Africa Policy Director for Save the Children.