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1.5m children at risk of devastating floods – UNICEF

More than 2.5 million people in Nigeria need humanitarian assistance, 60 per cent of which include children at increased risk of waterborne diseases, UNICEF has announced.

Anambra flood disaster
Flood in Ogbaru, Anambra State, Nigeria. October 2022

A statement by the UNICEF on Friday, October 21, 2022, in Abuja, said the floods, which affected 34 out of the 36 states in the country, also displaced 1.3 million people.

“Over 600 people have lost their lives and over 200,000 houses have either been partially or fully damaged.

“Cases of diarrhoea and water-borne diseases, respiratory infection, and skin diseases have already been on the rise.

“In the north-eastern states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe alone, a total of 7,485 cases of cholera and 319 associated deaths were reported as of Oct. 12.

“As rains are expected to continue for several weeks, humanitarian needs are also expected to rise,’’ it stated.

It said that children and adolescents in flood-affected areas are in an extremely vulnerable situation.

The statement quoted the UNICEF Representative in Nigeria, Cristian Munduate, as saying: “They are particularly at risk of waterborne diseases, emotional and psychological distress.

“UNICEF is working closely with the government and other partners to provide life-saving assistance to those who are most in need.”

Munduate said that the floods were adding another layer of complexity to an already precarious humanitarian situation in the country.

He said immediate priority needed for children included health, water, sanitation, and hygiene as well as shelter and food.

He said that additional funding and resources were required to respond to growing needs and to sustain ongoing humanitarian interventions, with a focus on the most vulnerable, including children with disabilities.

The statement also reported the UNICEF’s Children’s Climate Risk Index (CCRI) as saying that Nigeria was considered at “extremely high risk” of the impacts of climate change, ranking second out of 163 countries.

“Children in ‘extremely high risk’ countries face a deadly combination of exposure to multiple climate and environmental shocks combined with high levels of underlying child vulnerability.

“This is due to inadequate essential services, such as water and sanitation, healthcare and education.

“To date, UNICEF has supported the government response in three affected states in Jigawa, Niger and Kaduna.

“The support is through the provision of cash assistance, distribution of cholera kits, government-led mobile health teams, temporary learning centres, learning kits and cholera kits.

“With additional support, UNICEF can scale up its response in other states to provide lifesaving medical equipment and essential medicines, chlorination of water and sanitation supplies.

“UNICEF will also support the prevention of and response to sexual and gender-based violence,’’ he said.

By Vivian Emoni

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