Olaleye Aluko, Abuja
The United Nations Children’s Fund has warned that internally displaced Nigerian children are among the world’s most vulnerable to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The body demanded immediate actions to protect the children as they are among the 1.9 million people displaced from their homes in the North-East following the Boko Haram insurgency in the region.
UNICEF said this in a report of the risks and challenges facing internally displaced children, and the urgent actions needed to protect them.
The global body said 60 per cent of the displaced 1.9 million people in the North-East were children under five years.
Globally an estimated 19 million children – more than ever before, according to UNICEF – were living in displacement within their own countries due to conflict and violence in 2019 – some of them for years.
The organisation said it been working with development partners to protect the displaced Nigerian children through “critical health and nutrition services, providing access to life-saving services through accelerated construction of facilities”.
The body added that it would help the children to continue their education.
UNICEF said an estimated 19 million children were living in displacement within their own countries due to conflict and violence in 2019.
The UNICEF Nigeria Representative, Peter Hawkins, said, “Hundreds of thousands of children in the North-East are living in the shadow of conflict – and now in the increasingly challenging shadow of a global pandemic and its potential socioeconomic 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.
“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.”