At a glance: Nigeria

Nigeria crisis: Reaching children affected by conflict

© UNICEF/NYHQ2015–0477/Esiebo
Aisha, 13, pretends to draw at the tip of a pencil painted on a wall mural in a camp for internally displaced people in Adamawa State, Nigeria.

“Humanitarian needs are outpacing the response, especially now that new areas previously unreachable in north-east Nigeria become accessible.” – UNICEF Regional Director for West and Central Africa Manuel Fontaine

Since 2014, the escalation of the Boko Haram insurgency has led to an increase in the number of internally displaced persons in north-east Nigeria to almost 2 million people – more than half of whom are children. Ninety-five per cent of the displaced are located in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states.

Areas that have become recently accessible reveal an alarming humanitarian situation. The prevalence rates of global and severe acute malnutrition are reaching critical thresholds, and outbreaks of polio and measles are particularly concerning. Many people are accessing unprotected water sources, and recent reports indicate that health facilities have been destroyed, damaged and looted. Hundreds of thousands of children have been denied access to safe learning spaces after 1,200 schools were destroyed.

In north-east Nigeria alone, an estimated 20,000 children have been separated from their families.

Neighbouring countries in the Lake Chad region are also severely affected by the crisis. Some 2.6 million people, including 1.4 million children, have fled their homes across Nigeria, Cameroon, Niger and Chad as a result of instability and Boko Haram. These countries also host hundreds of thousands of refugees and internally displaced persons, putting a strain on local communities and resources in already vulnerable areas. The remoteness and insecurity of the Lake Chad region, as well as the limited number of actors and the volatility of the humanitarian situation, have complicated response efforts.

UNICEF and partners are scaling up their response to meet the basic needs of children and their families in the areas affected by conflict. So far this year, nearly 170,000 children have received psychosocial support, almost 100,000 have been treated for severe acute malnutrition and more than 100,000 have taken part in learning programmes.

>>  Learn more about the humanitarian situation in Nigeria
>>  Learn more about the humanitarian situation in the Lake Chad region
>>  Donate now to the Nigeria and Lake Chad crisis response

Press releases and statements

Massive immunization campaign to reach 41 million children in Nigeria and region to contain polio outbreak
DAKAR, Senegal – 11 October 2016 – A major health campaign is underway in the Lake Chad Basin area to vaccinate over 41 million children against polio to contain the recent outbreak of the disease in north-east Nigeria.

Boko Haram violence in Lake Chad region leaves children displaced and trapped
DAKAR, 25 August 2016 – Years of violence by Boko Haram in Africa’s Lake Chad basin have led to a worsening humanitarian crisis that has displaced 1.4 million children and left at least one million still trapped in hard-to-reach areas, UNICEF said in a report released today.

New polio cases in northeastern Nigeria underline risks for children in conflict - UNICEF
NEW YORK, 11 August 2016 – The sobering news that two children have been paralyzed by wild poliovirus in northeastern Nigeria underscores the urgency of eradicating the disease in conflict-affected areas, UNICEF said today.

Aid continues despite attack on humanitarian convoy in northeast Nigeria: UNICEF
ABUJA, Nigeria, 28 July 2016 - UNICEF continues to provide assistance to millions of conflict-affected children in northeast Nigeria, despite yesterday’s attack on a humanitarian convoy.

An estimated quarter of a million children severely malnourished in Borno state, Nigeria - UNICEF
ABUJA/DAKAR/NEW YORK/GENEVA, 19 July 2016 – An estimated quarter of a million children in Borno state, North-East Nigeria, face severe malnourishment and risk death, UNICEF said today, as the scale of the humanitarian crisis caused by the Boko Haram emergency continues to unfold.

Update on UNICEF response to humanitarian situation of displaced persons in Bama, Borno State, Nigeria
ABUJA, Nigeria, 23 June 2016 – UNICEF has been working with partners in Bama, Borno State, since March 2016, providing health, nutrition and water and sanitation support in a camp housing 25,000 people displaced by the conflict, including 15,000 children.

Stories and perspectives

Meet the uprooted children and families of Borno State, Nigeria
BORNO STATE, Nigeria, 19 October 2016 – Since 2014, the escalation of the Boko Haram insurgency has caused insecurity and massive displacement in north-east Nigeria and the Lake Chad region. An estimated 2.6 million people are internally displaced – more than half of whom are children.

What next for Nigeria’s children?
GWOZA, Nigeria, 23 September 2016 – Ajija is as frail as you possibly can be when alive. The four-year-old should be actively playing with friends but she can barely stand. When she is checked by a health worker, she is unsurprisingly registered as severely malnourished.

Life returns to parts of conflict-ridden Borno
GWOZA/KONDUGA, Borno, Nigeria, 29 August 2016 – The Mandara mountains appear ominously on the horizon through the cockpit window. Clouds hang over the ridge that cuts across Nigeria’s north-east border with Cameroon.

The miracle of Dzawandai, Cameroon
DZAWANDAI, Cameroon, 25 August 2016 – When asked about his age, Francois Sakotai smiles. “I don’t know, he said, maybe 70, 80? The only thing I can say, is that I am old. I am old and I was lonely, until Elisabeth, Delphine and Waibai came to my home.”

Danger, every step of the way
Chased from their homes, risking it all, these girls and boys had to cross forests, deserts and swamps with or without shoes. Escaping Boko Haram-related violence in Nigeria, Chad, Niger and Cameroon, they all have one thing in common: they managed to break free from violence.

A race against time to stop the spread of polio in Nigeria
MAIDUGURI, Nigeria, 17 August 2016 – Six-month-old Ajeda received her first dose of polio vaccine today at a camp for displaced persons outside Maiduguri city, north-east Nigeria.

Brothers and friends, breaking free from conflict
Recently, I learned a saying in the Kanembu language spoken in the Lake Chad area: “Gomay waya dounadoum do wadji,” which means “the struggle you are in today will be your strength of tomorrow.” I feel that this resonates with the story of the many children affected by the conflict in the Lake Chad region.

Most striking about Fati are her hand gestures. They cut through the air like blades, punctuating her sentences that come tumbling out in quick succession. She seems impatient and anxious to tell her story – a story that would be distressing for any adult, let alone a 15-year-old child.

"You're a Boko Haram wife - don't come near us!"
By the age of 17 'Khadija' had been kidnapped and forced to marry a Boko Haram fighter. She was abducted in the Nigerian town of Banki while she was visiting her mother. Shortly after giving birth to a boy, the Nigerian military freed her from captivity and she is now in a displacement camp in Maiduguri, but is battling stigma from women who call her a "Boko Haram wife".

Bring back our childhood
What would you miss most if you were to flee your home? Snap us on Snapchat at username: unicef, or show us on Twitter and Instagram with #BringBackOurChildhood. We’ll highlight our on our #BringBackOurChildhood Tumblr.

>>  Read more stories and perspectives from the Nigeria regional crisis


Children on the move, children left behind: Uprooted or trapped by Boko Haram
A major humanitarian crisis is unfolding in Africa’s Lake Chad Basin, where violence and destruction have caused huge population displacements, left hundreds of thousands of children trapped behind conflict lines and led to a dramatic increase in malnutrition. Local communities are doing what they can to help those in need, offering shelter to many of the 2.6 million people forced to flee their homes – 1.4 million of them children – but they themselves rank among the world’s poorest and most vulnerable.

Beyond Chibok: Over 1.3 million children uprooted by Boko Haram violence
Since the Chibok girls’ abduction two years ago, thousands of other children have disappeared in Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria. Scores have been separated from their families and subjected to exploitation, abuse and recruitment by armed groups. Some have even been used to carry out suicide bombings. Yet, their stories are barely told.



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