The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) says over 743,000 under-18 children have fled their homes to escape violence perpetrated by Boko Haram in the North-East.
The Chief Child Protection UNICEF Nigeria, Rachel Harvey, who spoke in Abuja during an occasion to commemorate this year’s Children’s Day celebrations, lamented that many Nigerian children were still living under the shadow of one form of violence or the other.
She said, “Most alarming is the level of violence in the North-East, of which children are bearing the brunt. Over 743,000 under-18s have fled their homes to escape the violence.”
According to her, this year’s Children’s day focuses on an important and timely theme for Nigeria: Violence Against Children: Addressing the Challenges.
Harvey said, “Many children in Nigeria live under the shadow of violence not just in their communities, but also in their homes and in their schools, places that should provide safety from harm.
“Children have lost their lives, witnessed horrific acts of violence, been forcibly recruited to fight and been subjected to sexual violence,” she said.
The immediate past Minster of Women Affairs and Social Development, Hajia Zainab Maina, who also spoke there, said the fact remained that Nigerian children are still at risk of the ugliest form of violence, crisis, rape, trafficking, torture, sale of babies.
The Minister said the choice of this year’s theme was informed by the Nigerian environment characterised by insecurity.
“The choice of our theme was informed by our Nigerian environment that is currently being characterised with insecurity as well as violence against women and children”, she added.
Maina said it was a calculated attempt by the Ministry to create more awareness, sensitize stakeholders on the ills of violence, sexual abuse and exploitation of children. Agency report