No fewer than 300,000 children have reportedly been killed in the northeast since the advent of insurgency in the region twelve years ago.
Peter Hawkins, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Representative to Nigeria, and the European Union (EU )Head of Cooperation, Cecile Tassin-Pelzer who disclosed these figures in a joint press statement also confirmed that over one million children had as well been displaced.
The aid agencies have now appealed to all sides in the conflict to protect children from the “short and long term effects of war, warning that a recent Mental Health and Psychological Support (MHPSS) needs assessment of conflict-affected children in Nigeria, revealed pervasive psychological distress manifesting as high levels of anxiety, suspiciousness, anger as well as aggressive and hyper-vigilance.
They stressed that the scars of conflict were real and enduring for children and that too many children in the northeast were falling victim to a conflict they did not start.
UNICEF country representatives advised that affected children be allowed and supported to regain their childhood and restart their lives.
The EU Head of Cooperation, Cecile Tassin-Pelzer, also advised that addressing the psychological well being and development of children and teachers in conflict situations is an important part of reestablishing education provision and enabling children to reenter schools safely.