Ten years of conflict and political instability have had dire repercussions for children and families in Nigeria, with children suffering the loss of family members, family separation, kidnappings and abuse.
The ongoing conflict between Boko Haram insurgents and the Nigerian military has also led to severe food shortages, and diseases such as malaria pose significant risks. Many communities lack the resources to effectively respond to children’s medical, nutritional and mental health needs.
Children in Borno State are particularly at risk of violence, disease, malnutrition and poor education. The state has the country’s lowest rate of literacy, with 65% of girls and 54% of boys unable to read and write.
SOS Children’s Villages is running a relief programme in the region to support 4,000 vulnerable children and 500 female-headed or child-headed households. At the charity’s child-friendly space in the Jere Local Government Area, children can access recreational activities and psycho-social care. SOS child welfare specialists, social workers and psychologists will also support children who have lost parental care, and girls and women affected by gender-based violence.
National Director of SOS Children’s Villages Nigeria Eghosa Erhumwunse said: “The ongoing instability in north-east Nigeria has taken a heavy toll on children, many of whom have lost loved ones through violence and displacement. Our immediate priorities are to protect children, support victims of sexual and gender-based violence, and help in providing safe water, sanitation and hygiene for vulnerable children and families.
“Gender-based violence remains a serious risk to girls and women. We must address this through psychological and social support, and by building the local community’s capacity to identify and support people who are at risk.
“The humanitarian and child protection needs in Borno State are vast. No single organisation can do the job alone. Our goal is to help 4,000 children and provide loving homes for those who have lost parental care - but this is only the beginning. Supporting the children and families who have experienced years of instability, separation and violence will require long-term commitment and partnerships with communities, government and local and international organisations.”
SOS Children’s Villages has been working to support children without parental care and at-risk families in Borno State for more than three decades. This places them in a strong position to address the longer-term needs of children and families affected by conflict and instability.
The charity’s emergency relief programme will:
- Improve access to water, sanitation and hygiene for at least 500 girls
- Care for children who have lost parental care due to displacement or violence
- Identify unaccompanied and separated children and provide care pending reunification
- Identify malnourished children and provide support through referrals to partner organisations or specialised care providers
- Set up a ‘Train-the-Trainers’ programme to train 25 women from the community to run workshops on sexual- and gender-based violence
- Offer training on child protection and establish a community child protection committee
- Train caregivers on parenting and child-development skills
- Provide food support for 500 families
You can find out more about our work supporting children in times of disaster and conflict.
Notes to editors:
For media enquiries please contact Lucy Prioli at Lucy.Prioli@sosuk.org or on 01223 222 974.