Half a million more children have fled attacks by Islamist Boko Haram in Nigeria, Niger, Cameroon and Chad in the last five months, UNICEF reported Friday.
These figures are about 1.4 million the number of children who have been driven from their homes in the Lake Chad area, adds the UN Children’s Fund said in a statement.
Nigeria is the most affected with almost 1.2 million children, over half under the age of five, uprooted by the insurgency that has lasted since 2009 and is particularly active in the northeast of the country she is born.
Some 265,000 other children are also affected neighboring countries, where Boko Haram has extended its attacks: Cameroon, Chad and Niger.
“It is worrying to see that we continue to kill, abduct and use women and children as bomb carriers,” said the executive director of UNICEF for Central and West Africa, Manuel Fontaine.
At least 15,000 people were killed in six years of insurgency Boko Haram, including some 1,100 in suicide bombings, raids and attacks that have taken place since taking office in late May, the new Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has revised upwards in early the estimated number of displaced due to the violence of the Islamists, passing them from 1.5 to over 2.1 million.
Unicef said to have increased its operations in the Lake Chad region, including its vaccination campaigns, noting that about 65 000 children under five have been treated for severe malnutrition.
But Mr. Fontaine said his organization had received a third of the $ 50 million needed to finance its regional operations this year.
This leaves more than 124,000 children not vaccinated against measles, while 208,000 do not attend school and more than 83,000 have no access to clean water.
“The influx of refugees and the lack of resources seriously compromise our ability to deliver vital aid on the ground,” says Fontaine.