The number of attacks by Boko Haram in northeast Nigeria and neighbouring countries has risen, and half a million children have had to flee to safety in the past five months, bringing the total number of displaced children in the region to 1.4 million, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said Friday.
“Each of these children running for their lives is a childhood cut short,” said Manuel Fontaine, UNICEF Regional Director for West and Central Africa, in a statement.
“It’s truly alarming to see that children and women continue to be killed, abducted and used to carry bombs,” he added.
UNICEF, together with governments and partners in Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger, is increasing its operations to assist thousands of children and their families in the region with access to safe water, education, counselling and psychosocial support, as well as vaccinations and treatment for severe acute malnutrition.
The agency’s work in the region is almost 70 per cent underfunded, having received only 32 per cent of the $50.3 million needed for humanitarian efforts in 2015. Because of this, over 124,000 children in the conflict-torn area have not received measles vaccinations, more than 83,000 lack access to safe water, and over 208,000 are not in school.
“With more refugees and not enough resources, our ability to deliver lifesaving assistance on the ground is now seriously compromised,” said Mr. Fontaine.
“Without additional support, hundreds of thousands of children in need will lack access to basic health care, safe drinking water and education.”