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4milllion children in need of humanitarian assistance in North east

Bukola Afeni

Global studies indicates that in crisis situations, girls are 2.5 times more likely to be out of school than boys, compromising the future prospects for work and financial independence as adults. During period of conflicts, health services,which is critical to girls’ wellbeing, including sexual and reproductive health services and information, maternal care, and provisions for menstrual health and hygiene are often scarce or insufficient during periods of conflict”

UNICEF is calling for girls to have access to specially-tailored programmes to meet the needs in the humanitarian crisis in northeast Nigeria, where an estimated 4 million children are in need of humanitarian assistance in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states.

Thousands of girls in northeast Nigeria have been held by Boko Haram, most suffering the trauma of violence, rape and forced ‘marriage.’
“Even when they escape or are released from captivity, the stigma associated with such harrowing experiences can be lifelong and girls require specific support to reintegrate into their communities”m

The UNICEF representative in Nigeria ,Pernille Ironside said Nigeria need to redouble its effort to meet the challenges of violence against girls, child marriage, female genital mutilation, and unequal access to education,” “These are the fundamental drivers of inequity for girls.”

According to him “If Nigeria is to realize its commitment to achieve gender equality and to empower all women and girls by 2030, all efforts must be put in place .

The UNICEF representative stressed that in situations of emergencies like the one in northeast Nigeria, “we must be sure to listen to girls and encourage them to participate in the processes that affect them, including in disaster management”
As well as utilize them in efforts to build resilience, peacebuilding and recovery,”
“Only with girls’ participation will their perspectives and needs be understood and incorporated into the humanitarian response.”he noted .
The Kaduna state government has reinforced it’s support at putting an end to violence against children .
The governor made the disclosure ,as Nigeria joins other
countries around the world to celebrate the International Day of the Girl child ,and launching of campaign against child violence .
Kaduna is now the seventh Nigerian state to have launched such a campaign, following promises made by all states to put in place action plans to end violence against children.
The Governor,Mallam Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai, who was represented by the Deputy Governor Barnabas Bala Bantex, promised that government policies would be reinforced to improve the quality of life for girls and to protect the rights of children in Kaduna state.
“Basic education is free and compulsory, especially for school age girls in Kaduna state”
“We must continue to work with UNICEF and other development partners to protect children ,and to end the incidence of any form of violence against children,” he added .
The global theme for the day this year is “Power of the Adolescent Girl: Vision 2030,” focusing on “EmPOWER girls: Emergency response and resilience planning.”
UNICEF interventions in education, health, nutrition, water, sanitation, and child protection in the northeast are designed to be gender-sensitive in order to meet the needs of both girls and boys.

The body also supports the Borno State Ministry of Women Affairs & Social Development in the provision of programmes for girls affected by the insurgency. These include social integration of survivors of conflict-related sexual violence, stigma, counselling support and access to education.

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