UNICEF Reports Millions of Children in Urgent Need of Assistance in Central Africa
In a recent report, UNICEF has warned that ten million children in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger urgently need humanitarian assistance to deal with the intensified conflicts ongoing in these regions. This figure has doubled from 2020 due to the increased attacks by armed groups, political instability, and the ongoing battles between the state-run education system and extremist groups.
Threatened by armed groups that attack schools and kidnap and kill teachers, minors in these countries are at a heightened risk. According to UNICEF, nearly four million children are threatened by these violent actions.
The Central Sahel has been particularly affected, as the ongoing jihadist violence that began a few years earlier in Mali and Niger has gradually spread, trapping the region in a spiral of violent aggression. Burkina Faso, which experienced two military coups in 2022, has been particularly vulnerable to these attacks, with schools, health centers and homes all targeted by rebel groups.
UNICEF is calling on all parties to the conflict to urgently end the attacks against children and avoid targeting vital community services, including education, health and other social infrastructure. The organization emphasizes the need for immediate assistance to support children in the region, and to tackle the drivers of conflict and instability on a wider scale.
As Marie Pierre Poirier, the UNICEF regional director for West and Central Africa, noted, “The year 2022 was particularly violent for the children of the central Sahel. All parties to the conflict must urgently end the attacks against them, but also against their schools, health centers and homes.” UNICEF is urging the international community to act now in providing much-needed support to those affected.