The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has lamented that Boko Haram terrorists killed over 300,000 children in the past 12 years in northeast Nigeria.
UNICEF presenting its statistics on the crisis in the northeast, indicated that the Boko Haram terrorists displaced more than one million people in the troubled region.
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) statistics also indicated that over 5,129 out-of-school children currently battle with mental health crises following the uprising in northern Nigeria.
The European Union (EU) and UNICEF, in a joint statement disclosed 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.
UNICEF’s Representative in Nigeria, Peter Hawkins, had highlighted: “The scars of conflict are real and enduring for children.
“Too many children in Northeast 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.’’
The joint statement added that stress and violence have been linked to poor brain development, depression, poor self-esteem. Also, children exposed to conflict and violence are at risk of long-term mental health and psychosocial issues.
The EU and UNICEF have continued to work together to provide community-based psychosocial services aimed at improving children’s mental health. They decried that children continue to bear the difficulties of the 12-year violent uprising in northeast Nigeria.
It was indicated that 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, and self-reliance.
The project was also said to support 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.
The EU Head of Cooperation Cecile Tassin-Pelzer, stated: “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.”
It was further indicated that UNICEF uses psychosocial support to help conflict-affected children manage their emotions, solve problems, deal with crises, and maintain healthy relationships.
The EU-funded programme in Borno State is a component of a three-year €10 million European Union Support to Early Recovery and Resilience package to support children, youths, and communities in Borno State.
Also included in the package is the provision of vocational skills and non-formal education to at least 25,000 young people, the construction and rehabilitation of learning centres, and the strengthening of education management information systems.