As security agents continue to battle flashpoints of conflict and insecurity across the country, a 12-year-old insurgency in the Northeast has caused the deaths of some 324,000 children under five, mostly from disease and hunger, while lives lost to conflict in the troubled states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe may hit 1.1 million should the crisis continue till 2030, the United Nations (UN) has warned.
This means for every year that the conflict continues, the burden is felt increasingly by infants and children. Every day of continued conflict takes the lives of 170 children under five and by 2030, that could grow to 240 daily.
Previous data showed that Boko Haram militants, who launched an insurgency in 2009 against the Federal Government that has since spread to neighbouring countries, have killed more than 35,000 people and displaced over two million from their homes.
But in a new report titled: ‘‘Assessing the impact of conflict on development in northeast Nigeria,’’ the UN Development Programme (UNDP) said yesterday that “the full human cost of war is much greater. We estimate that more than 90 per cent of the nearly 350,000 conflict-attributable deaths through 2020, about 324,000 are of children younger than five,” it said.
Indirect deaths from the devastating conflict including disease and hunger resulting from the conflict’s physical and economic destruction, already far outnumber those from direct causes, the report warns.
The study also says that critical aspects of progress and development, including Gross Domestic Product (GDP), poverty, malnutrition, infant mortality, education, water availability and sanitation, may not return to pre-conflict levels even by 2030.
Findings from the report show that for each casualty caused directly by insurgency, an additional nine persons, primarily children, have lost their lives due to lack of food and resources.
The report further notes that physical and economic destruction wrought by the insurgency has dismantled already fragile health and food systems. Less than 60 per cent of health facilities in Adamawa, Borno, and Yobe states are fully functional, while a quarter are either completely destroyed or non-functional.Attacks from insurgency have also led to massive internal displacement. More than 1.8 million Nigerians are displaced in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states, with the vast majority (nearly 1.5 million) located in Borno. In addition, 1.8 million students were out of school in 2020 who would have been enrolled if not for conflict and without increased investment in development efforts, the fate of education of adolescents in the region hangs in the balance. (Guardian)