Increased violence in Central Sahel puts millions of children at risk

Child war victims in Mali Child war victims in Mali Middle East Online

28 January 2020

Children flee their homes as attacks increase, impacting their safety, education, and wellbeing. 

Close to 5 million children will rely on assistance from the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), this year, due to a surge in violence in the central Sahel region in Africa. UNICEF reports that children in the affected regions have been assaulted, abducted and recruited into armed militias as a result of jihadist conflicts.

Violence in Central Sahel has increased over the past 2 years and the near-daily attacks have displaced millions. Children are at greater risk of exploitation and abuse as many flee their homes in search of relief. The violent attacks have negatively impacted education, access to food and water, and community stability. As of December 2019, more than 3,300 schools have been closed due to attacks against teachers and students. Adequate access to food and water has also been compromised. It is estimated that nearly 710,000 children will suffer from malnutrition or require life-saving humanitarian assistance by the end of this year. 

Marie-Pierre Poirier, UNICEF Regional Director for West and Central Africa, reported that the children in the areas in conflict “are being killed, mutilated and sexually abused, and hundreds of thousands of them have had traumatic experiences.”

The UN agency has applied for $208 million in aid from donors to provide humanitarian aid to those in need. The organization is also calling on the government and its partners to ensure that children are reunited with their families or provided with safe alternative care.


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Author: Teagan Foti; Editor: Noelle Musolino

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