Violence by militant group Boko Haram, in Africa’s Lake Chad basin, has left millions of children displaced or trapped in areas where it is hard for aid and help to reach them, according to UNICEF report.
In Africa’s Lake Chad basin, which includes Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger, 1.4 million children have been displaced and another million are trapped in hard-to-reach-areas.
“The Lake Chad crisis is a children’s crisis that should rank high on the global migration and displacement agenda,” said Manuel Fontaine, UNICEF regional director for West and Central Africa, in a press release.
“Humanitarian needs are outpacing the response, especially now that new areas previously unreachable in northeast Nigeria become accessible,” said Fontaine.
Released ahead of the UN Summit on Refugees and Migrants on September 19, 2016, a report, titled Children on the Move, Children Left Behind, looks at the impact of the Boko Haram insurgency on children in the Lake Chad basin countries and its devastating toll on children.
The report notes that, in addition to the 2.6 million people currently displaced, 2.2 million people – more than half of them children – are feared to be trapped in areas under the control of Boko Haram and need humanitarian assistance.
The report also noted that an estimated 38 children have been used to carry out suicide attacks in the Lake Chad basin region so far this year, bringing to 86 the total number of children used as suicide bombers since 2014.
It found that an estimated 475 000 children across the basin region will suffer from severe acute malnutrition this year, up from 175 000 at the beginning of the year, and in northeast Nigeria alone, an estimated 20 000 children have been separated from their families.
Most of the displaced population – more than 80% – are staying with families and neighbours, putting additional strain on some of the world’s poorest communities.
“Local communities are sharing the little they have to help those in need in an act of humanity that is replicated in thousands of homes across the conflict-affected areas,” said Fontaine.
UNICEF is working with partners to meet the basic needs of children and their families in the conflict-affected areas.
So far this year, nearly 170 000 children received psycho-social support, almost 100 000 were treated for severe acute malnutrition and more than 100 000 took part in learning programmes.
The children’s agency, which has received only 13% of the US$308 million it needs to provide assistance to the families affected by Boko Haram violence across Lake Chad basin, is appealing to the donor community to step up its support for the affected communities.
– African News Agency (ANA)