Over one million children in Northern Nigeria have been displaced from their homes as a result of attacks from the Boko Haram terrorist group over the past five months, a United Nations Children’s Fund report said on Friday.
Since the beginning of 2015, children and women have been increasingly used in bombings, the UNICEF Nigeria Chief of Communications, Anne Boher, told TIME.
According to the UNICEF report, the recent surge in the attacks by the insurgent group has brought the total number of displaced children in the North to about 1.4 million, more than half of whom are under the age of five. The report added that more than 265,000 other children have fled their homes in Nigeria’s neighbouring countries, including Cameroon, Chad and Niger.
“It’s truly alarming to see that children and women continue to be killed, abducted and used to carry bombs,” said the UNICEF regional director for West and Central Africa, Manuel Fontaine, in the report.
“Women and girls are involved in approximately three-quarters of the attacks,” she added. “And children are used, often without knowing, to carry bombs that were strapped to their bodies and detonated remotely in public places,”
However, the organisation lamented that funding shortfalls had hampered its work on the ground, stating that it had only received 32 per cent of the $50.3m it requires to finance its operations this year.
It added that victims of the insurgency were facing growing food insecurity and a cholera outbreak in displacement camps in Borno State. Similarly, a group of Internally Displaced Persons has urged governments at the local, state and federal levels to give psychological care to victims of the Boko Haram insurgency.
A statement by the group’s spokesperson, Mr. David Teniola Showunmi, on Friday said it was not enough to give victims of the insurgency monetary support alone.
Showunmi, a church worker who was displaced from Bita village in Borno State in August, said trauma care should be given to the victims in order to aid their rehabilitation and integration.
In the statement titled ‘Trauma care for IDPs: Key to integration,’ he said trauma care, including guidance, counselling, orientation, support and visitation, were needed, adding that some of the victims had felt “abandoned to a cruel fate.”
Showunmi said, “Boko Haram victims should be given psychological care.
“A lot of us have lost faith in Nigeria. We don’t believe in people any more. We are distraught and hopeless. For us, it is hard to believe that we have any place in the project called Nigeria.
“This is why a total reorientation is needed for victims of insurgency.”