UNICEF has reported that children have been attacked, abducted or recruited into armed groups due to the spike in armed conflict and insecurity in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger. As a result, more than 670,000 children across the region have been forced to flee their homes.
According to UNICEF, the violence has had a devastating impact on learning, with more than 3,300 schools in Burkina Faso,Mali and Nigeria closed or non-operational in 2019, which affected thousands of children and teachers.
The UN’s Children’s Fund also gathered that more than 709,000 children under the age of five will suffer from severe acute malnutrition and require lifesaving treatment this year due to the barriers of accessing food. In addition to calling for an end to the attacks, UNICEF is asking for safe access to all those affected by the situation.
In Mali, 571 grave violations against children were recorded during the first three quarters of 2019, compared to 544 in 2018 and 386 in 2017.
“When we look at the situation in the Central Sahel, we cannot help but be struck by the scale of violence children are facing. They are being killed, mutilated and sexually abused, and hundreds of thousands of them have had traumatic experiences”, said Marie-Pierre Poirier, UNICEF Regional Director for West and Central Africa.
The UN agency has appealed for $208 million to support operations on the ground which focus on the following areas; protection, education, health, nutrition, and water and sanitation.