The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), says in an urgent appeal for aid 9,272 schools have remained closed in Nigeria and nine other countries across West and Central Africa between 2017 and June 2019.
The children’s agency said if funding was not provided, 25 percent of the world’s out-of-school children in Nigeria and other violence infested African states, will be left stranded.
It estimated the number of children who cannot attend classes in the affected countries to be 1.9 million.
While there is no breakdown of how many schools have been closed down in Nigeria in the report, the international organisation said roughly 1,000 schools have been locked up in Chad, Cameroon, Niger, and Nigeria, where Boko Haram is actively pursuing a campaign of terror.
The agency warned that deliberate targeting of schools is sweeping across the region, denying children their right to learn, and leaving them – and their communities – in fear for their lives and futures.
“Deliberate attacks and unabating threats against education – the very foundation of peace and prosperity have cast a dark shadow on children, families, and communities across the region,” Charlotte Petri Gornitzka, UNICEF Deputy Executive Director said. In the two English-speaking regions of Cameroon – Northwest, and Southwest, over 4,400 schools have been shut down since 2016.
Many of the women and children in these areas have taken respite in Nigeria and no report has so far been carried out on the extent of school attendance by these children.
“I visited a displacement camp in Mopti, central Mali, where I met young children at a UNICEF-supported safe learning space. It was evident to me how vital education is for them and for their families,” Gornitzka said.
The agency reported that more than 2,000 schools have been closed in the country, with over 900 more locked up in neighbouring Burkina Faso thanks to a spillover.
“In the central Sahel, Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger have witnessed a six-fold increase in school closures due to attacks and threats of violence in just over two years, from about 500 in April 2017 to 3,000 in June 2019,” the report said.
Fanta is one of the victims devastated by the Boko Haram terror in Northern Cameroon.
“I lived with anxiety every day. They would come three, four times a day looking for my father. They killed my father and my older brother. They took my sister away. I haven’t seen her since,” she told UNICEF.