When people talk about Nigeria they think about one of the poorest countries in the world, bad living conditions or even Ebola. It’s the most heavily populated country in Africa where 514 different languages are spoken. However, ethnic conflicts between the Muslim north and the Christian south are being held violently in pain of the nation, affecting especially the most vulnerable among them – children.
Children and young adults make up 60% of the population. Child mortality is unacceptably high especially in northern Nigeria where one out of five children dies before their fifth birthday. Everyone should be able to get education. Children in Nigeria want to go to school, however many reasons make it very difficult, if not impossible for them to attend school or to enjoy a normal childhood.
Boko Haram, military forces and civilian defence groups – according to a new UNICEF report 800,000 children have been forced to flee their homes as a result of the conflict in northeast Nigeria. Shockingly, this number doubles within only one year. A report of Save the children reveals further disturbing news: 11 million children are out of school, 62% of them girls and 4.7 million of them elementary school children. HIV and AIDS, bad hygienic conditions in refugee camps, exploitation, discrimination and violent conflicts, where is the worriless childhood?
Boko Haram, a terroristic Islamic group that has been established 2002 and has accomplished major terroristic attacks ever since, is only one of the reasons to be named why children are in danger and have to flee their home – Nigeria. “Boko” – meaning western education and society, and “Haram” – meaning religious strictly forbidden, made their point on education very clear when they first started abducting and killing children and teachers from their schools because they consider it a “commitment of a sin”. 200 schoolgirls were abducted in Chibok, but the score of missing girls and boys that have gone missing in Nigeria shows a much higher figure.
They have a right to get their childhoods back. UNICEF has been spreading awareness of the devastating situation and the impact on children using the hashtag #bringbackourchildren.
Save the children has accomplished to save around 13,000 children by now, give more than 2,011,058 the opportunity to learn, more than 693,156 had the chance to start a new healthy life, supported 2,791 parents to start businesses to feed their family and 4,409,772 received nutritious food and vital supplements.
However, the fight against violence is as far away as a normal childhood for children in Nigeria. Every saved child is a step forward but as for now, the situation in Africa looks worse than ever.