More than 1.4 million children forced to flee conflict in Nigeria and region

 UNICEF's humanitarian response 70 per cent underfunded 

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DAKAR, GENEVA and NEW YORK, Sept. 18, 2015 /CNW/ - A sharp increase in attacks by the armed group commonly known as Boko Haram has uprooted 500,000 children over the past five months, bringing the total number of children on the run in northeast Nigeria and neighbouring countries to 1.4 million, UNICEF said today.

"Each of these children running for their lives is a childhood cut short," said Manuel Fontaine, UNICEF Regional Director for West and Central Africa. "It's truly alarming to see that children and women continue to be killed, abducted and used to carry bombs." 

In northern Nigeria alone, nearly 1.2 million children – over half of them under five years old – have been forced to flee their homes. An additional 265,000 children have been uprooted in Cameroon, Chad and Niger.

Together with governments and partners in all four affected countries, UNICEF has scaled up its lifesaving operations to thousands of children and their families affected by the violence. Since the beginning of the year:

  • More than 315,000 children have been vaccinated against measles;
  • More than 200,000 people have received access to safe water;
  • Almost 65,000 displaced and refugee children have had access to education and are able to continue their learning thanks to the delivery of school materials;
  • Nearly 72,000 displaced children have received counselling and psychosocial support;
  • Almost 65,000 children under five have received treatment for severe acute malnutrition.

However, funding remains scarce. UNICEF has received only 32 per cent of the US$ 50.3 million required this year for its humanitarian response across the Lake Chad region. As a result of this shortfall, more than 124,000 children affected by the conflict have yet to be immunized against measles, more than 83,000 still lack access to safe water and more than 208,000 are out of school.

"With more refugees and not enough resources, our ability to deliver lifesaving assistance on the ground is now seriously compromised," said Fontaine. "Without additional support, hundreds of thousands of children in need will lack access to basic health care, safe drinking water and education."

About UNICEF
UNICEF has saved more children's lives than any other humanitarian organization. We work tirelessly to help children and their families, doing whatever it takes to ensure children survive. We provide children with healthcare and immunization, clean water, nutrition and food security, education, emergency relief and more.

UNICEF is supported entirely by voluntary donations and helps children regardless of race, religion or politics. As part of the UN, we are active in over 190 countries - more than any other organization. Our determination and our reach are unparalleled. Because nowhere is too far to go to help a child survive. For more information about UNICEF, please visit www.unicef.ca.

SOURCE UNICEF Canada

Image with caption: "In April 2015, Bello, 12, walks home from school with his younger brother, Alei Kolo, in Chad's Dar es Salam camp. Their family is among more than 4,900 Nigerian refugees in the camp where UNICEF has set up 16 temporary learning spaces and has provided teaching materials and school supplies, as well as other educational support for children in the camp. (CNW Group/UNICEF Canada)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20150918_C2213_PHOTO_EN_500255.jpg

For further information: To arrange interviews or for more information please contact: Tiffany Baggetta, UNICEF Canada, 416-482-6552 ext. 8892, 647-308-4806 (mobile), tbaggetta@unicef.ca

RELATED LINKS
http://www.unicef.ca

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