Humanitarian Action for Children 2020 - Nigeria

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  • An estimated 10.6 million people – including 6.2 million children and 1.2 million people living in inaccessible areas – need humanitarian assistance in northeast Nigeria.1 There are over 600,000 crisis-affected people in the northeast with little access to humanitarian support.2 The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has exacerbated humanitarian needs and devastated weak service infrastructure.

  • UNICEF will provide life-saving assistance to 4.3 million crisis-affected people, including to address severe acute malnutrition (SAM); improve access to safe water and sanitation; provide integrated health services; improve the psychosocial well-being of children and caregivers; and increase access to education. Services will be delivered within the framework of COVID-19 response plans through inter-agency coordination and partnership with the Government and others.

  • UNICEF requires US$187.8 million to deliver an integrated package of nutrition, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) and education services to address the needs of vulnerable and crisis-affected children.


Over a decade of armed conflict in northeast Nigeria has resulted in large-scale population displacements. In 2021, an estimated 10.6 million people – including 1.9 million internally displaced persons and 1.2 million people living in inaccessible areas – will require humanitarian assistance across the northeast.8 The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the needs of affected people and further impacted weak basic service infrastructure.

Insecurity in the northwest has escalated due to persistent herder-farmer tensions, rising crime and organized attacks by non-state armed groups. The violence has left over 600,000 people in need and led 41,000 to flee to neighbouring Niger. The relative calm brought about by political mediation in mid-2019 has dissipated, with violent incidents increasing in frequency and severity. This deterioration has resulted in the proliferation of armed groups, including potential linkages with the Lake Chad Basin crisis. Without a response, the situation in the northwest could deteriorate akin to the crisis in the northeast.

Across targeted states, over 5.1 million people are food insecure. This situation, coupled with poor access to basic services, is exacerbating the vulnerability of crisis-affected children and women.10 Based on current global acute malnutrition levels, an estimated 807,000 children under 5 years will be acutely malnourished in 2021 in the northeast.11 Rapid assessments in the northwest indicate proxy global acute malnutrition rates exceeding 15 per cent, with some locations indicating over 30 per cent.12 WASH services remain far from Sphere standards due to pre-existing underdevelopment and lack of space for facilities in overcrowded camps.7 The mortality rate due to unsafe WASH services is 69 people in 100,000 – among the highest in Africa.13 Over 35 per cent of health facilities have been damaged due to conflict in the northeast, an area prone to malaria, cholera and measles outbreaks.14

Children remain at risk of trafficking, abduction and sexual violence across the country.
Twenty-one per cent of reported cases of gender-based violence involve children, and 35 per cent of these children are unaccompanied or separated.15 Children are in urgent need of quality education, and prolonged school closures are affecting nearly 4.2 million students.16 Overall, nearly 10 per cent of children are out of school.16 Learning outcomes remain poor: Two children in three who finish their primary educations are unable to do basic arithmetic.
Insecurity has affected school attendance and access, with over 1,400 schools damaged due to conflict.17