Nearly 3 million people in Niger, more than half of whom are children, need humanitarian assistance amidst the risks posed by insecurity, malnutrition, recurrent disease epidemics, cyclical floods, droughts and displacement. UNICEF today called for increased attention to the plight of children and their families.
Niger continues to face simultaneous emergencies that are stretching the capacities of humanitarian partners to respond adequately. The situation is exacerbated by instability in the region, including in neighboring countries, resulting in an influx of thousands of refugees, returnees, internally displaced persons and migrants, all needing access to basic social services and protection for survival.
“In a context of constrained resources and limited social services, the communities that host displaced populations are showing extraordinary resilience and sharing the little they have. This truly is a great example that Nigeriens are showing to world,” said Dr. Félicité Tchibindat, UNICEF Representative in Niger, following a visit in the conflict-affected region of Diffa, alongside national and international partners.
“As more attention is now paid to the resurgence of armed violence in the central Sahel, it is equally important to pay the same attention to its impact on children and their families,” she continued.
Insecurity has exacerbated the chronic challenges already facing children in Niger. Attacks against civilians in the Lake Chad region prevented 263,000 people in Diffa from returning to their homes. Growing insecurity along the borders with Burkina Faso and Mali has increased needs in Tillabéri and Tahoua regions, where nearly 78,000 people have been displaced. Deteriorating security on the border with Nigeria has also resulted in the movement of tens of thousands of people who have sought refuge in border villages of the Maradi region, in central Niger.
“Insecurity is spreading at a rapid pace in the central Sahel region. Women and children are bearing the brunt of the violence. In already fragile host communities, the burden of forced displacement increases the vulnerability of children and communities and significantly affects their health, protection, nutrition and education,” said Dr. Tchibindat.
The sharp increase in insecurity, violence and military operations has also hampered humanitarian actors’ access to populations affected by conflict.
“Reaching those in need is increasingly challenging. UNICEF calls on all stakeholders to respect humanitarian spaces allowing safe and sustainable access to deliver humanitarian assistance to affected populations, including women and children, wherever they are,” Tchibindat said.
UNICEF is appealing for solidarity to help the Government of Niger and its partners meet the urgent needs of the affected populations and provide vital assistance to improve their living conditions in the affected areas.
In Niger, UNICEF is working on several priority fronts to respond to the immediate needs of people affected by emergencies and conflicts. UNICEF works with national actors and humanitarian partners to respond to acute emergencies such as new population movements, and to increase national capacities to mitigate risks and respond to cyclical and chronic emergencies, including flooding, malnutrition, disease outbreaks and epidemics. In Niger, UNICEF and its partners will need US $ 59.4 million to deliver vital humanitarian aid to children in 2020.