By Felix Khanoba
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) says 19 million children are living in displacement within their own countries due to conflict and violence in 2019.
The United Nation’s body said the displaced children are now among the most vulnerable to the ravaging COVID-19 pandemic across the world.
The organisation, which said the 19 million displaced children is the highest figure to have ever been recorded, revealed that North-East Nigeria accounts for 1.9 million displaced persons out of which a large chunk of them are children.
“In North-east Nigeria, there are currently 1.9 million people displaced from their homes. 60percent of them are children, with one in four under the age of five,” UNICEF said in a statement made available to newsmen in Abuja on Tuesday.
The organisation which released a report that examined the risks and challenges facing internally displaced children, warned that urgent actions are needed to protect them.
The report, ‘Lost at Home’, looks at the risks and challenges internally displaced children face, and the urgent actions needed to protect them.
“Hundreds of thousands of children in North-east 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,” said Peter Hawkins, UNICEF Representative in Nigeria.
“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,” he added.
According to the UNICEF’s report, 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 said it is partnering with stakeholders to protect displaced children in North-east 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.
“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,” Peter Hawkins said.