UNICEF speaks out against child deaths in northern Nigerian clashes

31 December 2009

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) today lamented the deaths of a number of Nigerian children in clashes in the north of the country, with most of those taking part in the violence being young people.

According to media reports, the majority of the dozens killed in the fighting on Monday in Bauchi were children.

In northern Nigeria, millions of children live in very precarious circumstances, far from their families, UNICEF said, adding that “these children are extremely vulnerable to the influence of those who offer them even meagre sustenance.”

The agency stressed that it “deplores the exploitation of vulnerable children, which so often ends in tragedy.”

It called on governments, communities, families and both traditional and religious leaders to ensure that these children are properly cared for, that they receive quality educations and that they are protected against abuse and violence.

A recent survey by Nigeria’s Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development found that nearly one-quarter of all children in Nigeria, numbering over 17 million, are orphans or vulnerable in other ways. It also found that the burden of orphans and vulnerable children in Nigeria is higher than countries facing war, such as Sudan, Somalia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

 

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