Children attending class in the SOS child-friendly space.
Niger – 27 April 2018

Children seek refuge from Boko Harem rebels in Niger

55,000 Nigerian children have fled the Boko Harem insurgency and are seeking refuge in neighbouring Niger – despite the country facing its own humanitarian crisis.

Political instability and violence in the Lake Chad region have forced a quarter of a million refugees into Niger, most of whom are living in displacement camps or makeshift shelters. More than half of the refugees are children.

Niger, which is beset by chronic food insecurity, droughts, floods, disease outbreaks and poverty, is struggling to provide refugee children with basic resources like food, water and shelter. Almost half the population live in poverty, and it is estimated that 1.2 million children in Niger will require humanitarian assistance this year. In the Diffa region alone, where SOS Children’s Villages is providing emergency relief, 400,000 people are in critical need of food assistance.

Most refugees in Niger are escaping the violent insurgency by Boko Harem rebels which has lasted nine years and precipitated one of the world’s most severe humanitarian crisis. The conflict has resulted in widespread human rights violations, particularly against children. Thousands of children have been abducted from school or their families to become child soldiers, child brides or pawns in political negotiations.

SOS Children’s Villages UK Communications Director Pascale Palmer said: “The Boko Harem insurgency has had terrible repercussions for children. Many have witnessed terrible atrocities, or been victims of abuse themselves. Now having fled for their lives, leaving behind their homes, communities and sometimes even their families, they are facing the threat of starvation and disease in the very place they hoped to find safety.

“SOS Children’s Villages is providing emergency food, water and medical care for thousands of displaced children and their families who have escaped the horrors of war in Nigeria. Many of the children are acutely malnourished so providing food, nutritional support and medical attention is a top priority.”

SOS Children’s Villages is providing emergency relief to children and families displaced by the insurgency, including:

  • Emergency food, water and healthcare
  • Child-friendly spaces for traumatised children to relax and play
  • Treatment for malnourished children and breastfeeding mothers
  • Education, vocational training and teacher training
  • Healthcare
  • Reuniting unaccompanied child refugees with their families
  • Supporting struggling families so they can remain together

You can find out more information about SOS Children’s Villages emergency relief operations here.
 

Notes to editors:
For media enquiries please contact Lucy Prioli at Lucy.Prioli@sosuk.org or on 01223 222 974.