By Lexi Elo
Children are suffering the dire consequences of the conflict in Nigeria, losing their homes, missing out on education and risking their lives, United Nations Education Fund (UNICEF), has revealed.
“The situation has escalated over the past few weeks, becoming a much larger humanitarian crisis. We need to do everything we can to prevent the spillover effect of the violence in Nigeria on other countries in the region,” said Manuel Fontaine, UNICEF Regional Director for West and Central Africa.
Nearly one million people have fled their homes in Nigeria because of the violence rocking the northern parts of the country, while more than 135,000 have sought refuge in Cameroun, Chad and Niger.
Recent attacks on Baga and other communities in Maiduguri, have led to a fresh wave of refugees into neighbouring countries, leading to a larger humanitarian crisis in the region – the vast majority are women and children.
In Chad, about than 9,000 Nigerian refugees and Chadian returnees have arrived to Chad since the beginning of the month, bringing the total number of Nigerian refugees there to over 10,000. More than 100 children have arrived without a parent or a caretaker.[pro_ad_display_adzone id=”10″]
In Cameroun, children represent 60 per cent of the 25,000 Nigerian refugees living in Minawao camp, in the northern region, where a recent assessment revealed alarming rate of malnutrition among children.
Niger has seen a sharp increase in the number of people seeking refuge in the Diffa region, where women and children make up 70 per cent of the 100,000 Nigerian refugees and returnees.
Presently, UNICEF is working with partners to provide displaced and refugee children and their families with basic assistance, including safe water, nutrition, health, education and protection services. More than 65,000 children were treated for severe acute malnutrition in Nigeria. Also, trained community volunteers reached over 13,000 children with psychosocial support. More than 3 million children received vitamin A supplementation.
In Cameroun, 10 clean water facilities and 160 latrines were built and 1,300 hygiene kits were distributed. Nutritional screening and treatment is also provided in collaboration with the Red Cross. Four child-friendly spaces have been created, offering psycho-social support.
Furthermore, in Chad, UNICEF is scaling up its presence in the Lake Chad region, with its office in Mao distributing lifesaving supplies, such as hygiene kits and therapeutic food as well as blankets, clothing, tents and water supply.
In Niger, over 96,000 children were vaccinated against measles, from 28 December to 3 January, and school capacity is being reinforced to provide additional spaces to refugee and local children.