At least 5,129 children forced out of schools by terror attacks in Nigeria’s volatile northeastern Borno State are receiving mental health care supported by the EU, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said on Monday.
In a statement in Abuja, the country’s capital, UNICEF said the 12 years of Boko Haram violence has triggered depression and mental health challenges among many children in the area.
“The scars of conflict are real and enduring for children. Too many children in northeast Nigeria are falling victims to a conflict they did not start,” said Peter Hawkins, a UNICEF representative in Nigeria.
He said the mental care targets out-of-school children in six local governments.
He added the EU-funded project also supports vulnerable children in the area with protection and health services, basic literacy skills, and access to justice and security.
The EU head of cooperation, Cecile Tassin-Pelzer, said addressing the psychological well-being and development of children and teachers in conflict situations, was “an important part of re-establishing education provision and enabling children to re-enter school safely.”
Lucy Dlama of Women in New Nigeria and Youths Empowerment Initiative told Anadolu Agency the success of the project requires collaboration from the government.
She also asked authorities to step up efforts to take more children in the area off the streets and bring them back to classrooms.
More than 300,000 children have been killed and over a million displaced in the country’s 12 years of violence, according to UNICEF.