ABUJA, NIGERIA, 30 December 2009 — UNICEF laments the death of the children in clashes that erupted in Bauchi on 28 December. Observers report that most of the people involved in the incident were children aged between 10 and 15, backed up by adults.
Millions of children in northern Nigeria live in very precarious circumstances, many away from their families. These children are extremely vulnerable to the influence of those who offer them even meagre sustenance. UNICEF deplores the exploitation of vulnerable children, which so often ends in tragedy.
The children’s agency calls on governments, traditional and religious leaders, communities and families to ensure that these children are properly cared for, receive quality education and are protected against abuse and violence, whatever the source of their vulnerability.
According to the results of a survey released by the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development earlier this month, nearly one-quarter of all children in Nigeria—some 17.5 million—are orphans or vulnerable in other ways. The burden of orphans and vulnerable children in Nigeria, the survey found, “is higher than in countries at war such as Sudan, Somalia and the Democratic Republic of Congo and those with high HIV prevalence rates in Southern and Eastern Africa.”
UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.