The United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) has disclosed that 1,140,000 children are displaced in the Northeastern part of Nigeria.
It therefore, warned that internally displaced children in Nigeria are among the world’s most vulnerable to the COVID-19 pandemic.
UNICEF made the disclosure when it released a report titled: ‘Lost at Home’, that looked at the risks and challenges facing internally displaced children, and the urgent actions needed to protect them.
According to UNICEF, in Northeast Nigeria, there are currently 1.9 million people displaced from their homes; 60 per cent of them, which is equivalent to 1,140,000 are children, with 1 in 4 under the age of five.
Globally, according to UNICEF, an estimated 19 million children – more than ever before, were living in displacement within their own countries due to conflict and violence in 2019 – some of them for longer years.
The UNICEF Representative in Nigeria, Peter Hawkins, said: “Hundreds of thousands of children in Northeast Nigeria are living in the shadow of conflict – and now in the increasingly challenging shadow of a global pandemic and it’s potential socio-economic aftermath.
“When a new crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic emerges, displaced children are especially vulnerable and the gaps in our ability to keep them safe are even more stark.
“We must urgently work together – all of us, government and humanitarian partners – to keep them safe, healthy, learning and protected.”
Peter Hawkins further said: “What we really need now are strategic investments and a united effort from government, civil society, private sector, humanitarian actors and children themselves to find solutions that can protect children from the effects of displacement – especially as we face the COVID-19 pandemic – and also address and help mitigate the longer term impacts this can have on children’s health and education.”
The report further revealed that there were 12 million new displacements of children in 2019 – 3.8 million of them were caused by conflict and violence, and 8.2 million by disasters linked mostly to weather-related events like flooding and storms.
UNICEF and partners are currently working to protect displaced children in Northeast Nigeria through critical health and nutrition services, providing access to life-saving WASH services through accelerated construction of facilities, and adapted solutions to continuing education – including the provision of radios for distance learning while schools are closed.