More than half of schools in the northeast Nigerian state of Borno are closed with millions of children unable to start school this year due to the ongoing threat of Boko Haram, the United Nations children‘s’ agency said on Friday.
UNICEF said almost 1,400 schools have been destroyed in Borno during the Islamist group’s eight-year insurgency and 57 percent of schools are unable to open because of damage or being in areas that remain unsafe.
An estimated three million children are now in need of education, with many also victims of sexual assault, forced into marriage, and up to 100 used as human bombs so far this year.
Three years ago, the abduction of more than 200 schoolgirls by the jihadist group in Chibok in northeastern Nigeria sparked global outrage.
“In addition to devastating malnutrition, violence and an outbreak of cholera, the attacks on schools is in danger of creating a lost generation of children, threatening their and the country’s future,” UNICEF’s Deputy Executive Director Justin Forsyth said in a statement.
Boko Haram, whose name in the Hausa language means “Western Education is Forbidden”, is believed to have killed more than 2,200 teachers since 2009.
The insurgency has killed more than 15,000 people and forced some two million to flee their homes. It has also deprived millions of children of an education and torn apart communities.
Forsyth said nearly one million children have been forced from their homes by the crisis with 450,000 children under the age of five expected to suffer from severe malnutrition this year.
He said children living in camps for the displaced in Borno were actually attending school, many for the first time in their lives, with UNICEF and partners enrolling nearly 750,000 children in school this year.
But he said UNICEF was short of funds for emergency life-saving programmes in northeast Nigeria for the rest of this year which includes building classrooms and providing school supplies.