December 7, 2021

UNICEF Chief Expresses Concerns Over Attacks Against Children in West, Central Africa

The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Executive Director Henrietta Fore has expressed her concern about the alarming spate of attacks against children and abduction of students in parts of west and central Africa.

Fore said the UNICEF is deeply concerned that “non-state armed groups and parties to the conflict in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Niger and Nigeria will ramp up these violent activities over the coming weeks.”

A group of unidentified gunmen in Nigeria’s northwestern state of Kaduna stormed the Bethel Baptist High School in Damishi town, Chikun local government area, in the early hours of Monday, taking away an unknown number of students, the police said Monday.

Fore said 178 civilians were recently killed, including children in Burkina Faso with more than 1.2 million people, 61 percent of whom are now displaced because of violence — a 10-fold increase in just the last three years.

The UNICEF chief added that attacks on civilians, abductions, and killings of school children and teachers are on the rise across the northwest and southwest parts of Cameroon.

Fore said such incidents appear to be increasing in frequency, raising fears for the safety and wellbeing of the region’s children.

“Already in 2020, according to the latest report of the United Nations Secretary-General on children and armed conflict, 1 in 3 child victims of grave 

violations has been in West and Central Africa,” she said.

She urged for concerted action to ensure that children in the region can safely live, go to school or fetch water without fear of being attacked or taken from their families.

“The international community also has an important role to play. We need our donors to increase their contributions so that we can expand our work to reduce children’s vulnerabilities and increase their resilience to keep them safe from harm,” the UNICEF chief said.