UNICEF Working To Help Children Affected By Conflict In Northeast Nigeria

According to a new report from UNICEF, roughly 80,000 children have had to flee their homes because of the fighting that is taking place in the Northeast of Nigeria between the country’s military forces, civilian defence groups and Boko Haram. The report was released twelve months following the abduction of more than 200 school girls by Boko Haram in Chibok. The report also reveals that the number of children in Nigeria that are running for their lives has more than doubled in less than a year.

“The abduction of more than 200 girls in Chibok is only one of endless tragedies being replicated on an epic scale across Nigeria and the region. Scores of girls and boys have gone missing in Nigeria – abducted, recruited by armed groups, attacked, used as weapons, or forced to flee violence. They have the right to get their childhoods back” said Manuel Fontaine, UNICEF Regional Director for West and Central Africa.

The report titled Missing Childhoods, outlines the way in which the fighting in the region is exerting a heavy toll on Nigeria’s children as well as those who live across the region in a disturbing number of ways.

  • Boko Haram is using abducted children as combatants, look-outs, cooks and porters.
  • Young women are being forced in to marriage, subjected to both rape and forced labour.
  • Boko Haram is deliberately targeting students and children, with over 300 schools being destroyed or damaged and at least 314 school children and 196 teachers killed by the end of 2014.

Unsurprisingly UNICEF is escalating its humanitarian response to the crisis. Over the last 180 days, the agency has provided counselling and psychosocial support to over 60,000 children that have been affected by the conflict. The goal is to help children in Nigeria, Cameroon, Niger and Chad ease the pain of their memories and cope with emotional distress. UNICEF is also trying to provide life saving medical services and safe drinking water, as well as seeking to restore the children’s access to education through the creation of temporary learning spaces.

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