By G9ija

United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said on Tuesday that more than one million out-of-school children in insurgency-ravaged Northeast Nigeria had in the past one year been empowered to access quality education in a safe environment.

UNICEF’s Education Officer responsible for Education in Emergencies (EIE) Coordination at National level Dr Judith Giwa-Amu stated this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja.

Giwa-Amu said UNICEF and partners had developed several programmes to ensure quality and safe environment for children in conflict zones, taking cognizance that “education is protection and lifesaving”, and could prevent children from being recruited into armed groups.

She said that UNICEF had initially targeted 1.5 million children to benefit from the programme but was able to effectively reach only one million children.

She said that in conflict-affected Benue in the North Central zone, 11,000 children out of the earlier targeted 12,000 children have also been supported to access quality education in a safe environment.

“We are aware of the fact that education is protection.

“It is actually life-saving because when children are engaged in education, they are not on the road to be recruited, to be abducted, and to be kidnapped.

“We recognise that when you talk of humanitarian response, there is the need to capture the most severe area.

“Sometimes it looks like it is only the North East but the cases in the Northeast are very severe, the numbers are very high.

“You have over 1.5 million children that are out of school and that is before COVID-19 and there are so many programmes aside UNICEF.