Statement by Anthony Lake, UNICEF Executive Director, on the situation of children in Nigeria

13 December 2016

UNICEF/UN041141/Vittozzi

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NEW YORK, 13 December 2016 – “The violent conflict in northeast Nigeria has left children severely malnourished and at risk of death.

“In the three worst-affected states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa, farming has been disrupted and crops destroyed, food reserves depleted and often pillaged, and livestock killed or abandoned.

“In Borno, where the fighting has been most brutal, 75 per cent of the water and sanitation infrastructure and 30 per cent of all health facilities have been either destroyed, looted or damaged. 

“The impact on children is devastating. 

“We estimate that 400,000 children will suffer from severe acute malnutrition over the next year in the three affected states. If they do not receive the treatment they need, 1 in 5 of these children will die. Cases of diarrhoea, malaria and pneumonia are on the rise, further endangering children’s lives.

“These figures represent only a fraction of the suffering. Large areas of Borno state are completely inaccessible to any kind of humanitarian assistance. We are extremely concerned about the children trapped in these areas.

“We are making a difference in the areas we can reach. With the World Food Programme and other partners, we are treating acutely malnourished children. We are vaccinating children against measles and polio. We are providing safe water and sanitation services.

“But this is nowhere close to enough.

“Without adequate resources and without safe access, we and our partners will be unable to reach children whose lives are at imminent risk.

“What is already a crisis can become a catastrophe.” 

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