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UNICEF seeks protection of IDPs, vulnerable from COVID-19

By Idowu Abdullah,

The United Nations Children’s Funds (UNICEF) has called for concerted efforts from all levels of governments in Nigeria towards protecting the Internal Displaced Persons, children, and vulnerable from the novel coronavirus disease within the nation’s border.

It explained that the call had become imperative with the status of the internally displaced persons, children in Nigeria as being among the most vulnerable to the deadly respiratory disease in the world.

UNICEF Representative in Nigeria, Peter Hawkins, said the unpleasant situation and attendant realities of the IDPs and children warrants urgent actions from all stakeholders in protecting them from the ravaging pandemic.

Hawkins, while speaking to newsmen in Abuja, said the new UNICEF report released in Abuja on Tuesday, titled – ‘Lost at Home’, brought to the fore the associated risks and challenges internally displaced persons and children face in their everyday lives.

According to him, the reality in the north-east, where 1.9 million people of which sixty percent of them are children have been displaced from their homes paints the gloomy picture of the current situation about the IDPs.

“Hundreds of thousands of children in north-east Nigeria are living in the shadow of conflict – and now in the increasingly challenging shadow of a global pandemic and it’s potential socio-economic aftermath.

“When a new crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic emerges, displaced children are especially vulnerable and the gaps in our ability to keep them safe are even starker. We must urgently work together – all of us, government and humanitarian partners – to keep them safe, healthy, learning, and protected.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is making a critical situation for displaced children and families around the world even worse. They often live in overcrowded camps or informal settlements, where access to basic hygiene and health services is limited, and where physical distancing is not possible. This is true in Nigeria’s north-east, where conditions pose a particular challenge to containing the possible spread of diseases like COVID-19,” he said.

Furthermore, Hawkins called for strategic investments and a united effort from government, civil society, private sector, humanitarian actors in finding lasting solutions that can protect children from the effect of displacement and that of coronavirus.

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