3M children 'need' urgent education support in Nigeria
An estimated 3 million children are in need of emergency education support in Nigeria's northeast, the region worst hit by Boko Haram insurgency, UNICEF said Friday.
Fifty-seven percent of schools in Borno State remain closed even as the new school year begins, according to a press release by the UN Children's Fund.
"Children in northeast Nigeria are living through so much horror," said Deputy Executive Director Justin Forsyth after a 3-day visit to Maiduguri, Boko Haram's birthplace.
In addition to "devastating malnutrition, violence and an outbreak of cholera," the attacks on schools could create "a lost generation of children, threatening their and the countries future," Forstyth warned.
Over 2,295 teachers have been killed and 19,000 have been displaced across the northeast since 2009, the statement said, adding almost 1,400 schools had been destroyed with the majority unable to open because of extensive damage or because they were in areas that remained unsafe.
Nearly 1 million children have been displaced by the crisis so far, and 450,000 children under the age of five are expected to suffer from severe acute malnutrition this year, according to UNICEF.
"The use of children as human bombs-close to 100 so far this year-has sown a climate of mistrust among communities in the northeast, and a cholera outbreak has affected more than 3,900 people, including over 2,450 children," it said.
UNICEF's life-saving emergency programs in northeast Nigeria remain underfunded, it added. "With only three months left in the year, UNICEF has a 40 percent finding gap in its needs for 2017."
Boko Haram, which seeks to carve out a state for itself in Nigeria's north, has been blamed for the ongoing conflict in the region. The group's insurgency has forced around three million people to flee their homes, and left more than 20,000 people dead, according to recent figures revealed by Nigeria's National Emergency Management Agency.
Boko Haram seized some areas and declared a 'caliphate' in 2013 until the military recaptured the districts in early 2015.