Tens of millions of children in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger are in dire need of humanitarian aid, and escalating violence has led to hostilities spreading to neighboring countries, sparking a growing crisis, according to a UNICEF report. and a crisis of great impact.
(Vatican News) Ten million children in the central Sahel need humanitarian assistance, twice as many as in 2020. In addition, ongoing conflict and unrest contribute to the growing and rapid spread of crises. On March 17, UNICEF issued a statement for West and Central Africa – “Wake-up call for children: In the central Sahel, children are at extreme risk”. The statement called for stronger humanitarian aid and long-term fundraising to help children who are victims of violence, lack of education, forced military service, displacement and malnutrition.
John James, UNICEF regional director for West and Central Africa, briefed Vatican News on the situation. “In the Sahel, about half the population is children and their rights need to be protected. Moreover, violence in the region is spilling over to neighboring countries,” he said.
Children are the biggest victims
John continued: “Children are indeed the group most affected by this crisis. We have seen armed men attacking schools, civilian communities, public facilities, hospitals, etc. In the Sahel, more than 8,000 schools have been forced to close, It also caused teachers to flee.”
Some 2.7 million people have been forced from their homes, and the mass exodus is a growing problem in the region. “Half of them are children, who are accepted into camps for displaced persons,” John stressed. Another phenomenon that is particularly alarming is child soldiers. In Mali, we are seeing more and more children being recruited into some armed groups. , As of the first half of last year, there were about 480 cases of child soldiers recruited by armed groups. At the same time, these child soldiers are also victims of armed conflicts, some of them were killed or killed in military conflicts, and some were killed or killed by improvised explosive devices.”
John points to another problem: “Where people go to get water is being deliberately attacked, and even the trucks that deliver it are targeted by armed groups. Water is vital, and it has a huge impact on the lives of children and families. Influence.”
John recalled: “In the central Sahel region, UNICEF has been present for decades and works with some organizations. We spend money on education, health, vaccines, food.” He went on to emphasize that “through these projects , so that our organization can provide assistance to millions of children in this region. Therefore, we hope that donors and supporters can make “long-term flexible investments”, funds will be used for the long-term development of these war-torn countries, and can also reduce future incidents the potential for conflict, and enhancing social cohesion.” John concludes by pointing out that “now, not only are wars and crises diverting attention and funding, but rising food prices and climate change are also having a huge impact on intervention programmes, which Definitely one of those emergencies that is being ignored by the international community. This statement is like a wake-up call that “this area needs attention! “.
In conclusion, John concluded: “UNICEF’s appeal is very much in line with what Pope Francis has often reminded us of – that every person, every child has a dignity, a right and a deserving concern. If we can help the normal run so they can enjoy peace and prosperity, and I think we’re going to have a huge impact on a lot of things around the world.”
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