UNICEF: Over 300,000 children killed in Boko Haram insurgency

UNICEF: Over 300,000 children killed in Boko Haram insurgency

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has revealed that more than 300,000 children lost their lives in the last 12 years because of the insurgency ravaging the North East region.

In its latest statistics, UNICEF disclosed that over one million people have been displaced within the period under review.

According to a statement jointly released by the European Union (EU) and UNICEF on Thursday, September 23, they noted that a recent Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) needs assessment of conflict-affected children in north-east Nigeria; revealed pervasive psychosocial distress manifesting as high levels of anxiety, suspiciousness, anger, aggressiveness, and hyper-vigilance.

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“The scars of conflict are real and enduring for children,” said Peter Hawkins, UNICEF’s Representative in Nigeria.

“Too many children in North East Nigeria are falling victim to a conflict they did not start. Attacks against children must stop immediately. In the meantime, we are committed to working with our partners to provide psychosocial and other support to conflict-affected children so they can regain their childhood and restart their lives.’’

Stress and violence have been linked to poor brain development, depression, poor self-esteem. Children exposed to conflict and violence are at risk of long-term mental health as well as psychosocial issues, it added.

As children continue to bear the brunt of the 12-year conflict in northeast Nigeria, the EU and UNICEF are working together to provide community-based psychosocial services aimed at improving children’s mental health.

Through the EU-funded Support to Early Recovery and Resilience Project implemented by UNICEF, at least 5,129 conflict-affected out-of-school children in Borno State, north-east Nigeria in six local government areas are receiving services; including mental health support in safe spaces to strengthen their well-being, resilience, literacy skills, as well as self-reliance.

The project also supports vulnerable children across Borno with protection and health services; vocational and basic literacy skills; access to justice and security, under a holistic humanitarian intervention; that has so far provided 15,552 out-of-school children with vocational training; 1,610 out-of-school children with literacy and numeracy skills and 5,194 children enrolled into integrated Qur’anic schools across focus LGAs.

According to the EU Head of Cooperation Cecile Tassin-Pelzer, “Addressing the psychosocial well-being and development of children and teachers; in conflict situations is an important part of re-establishing education provision; and enabling children to re-enter schools safely.”

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