Niamey, 21 February—As the largely forgotten crisis in the Lake Chad Basin continues, World Vision urgent international donors at the Oslo Humanitarian Conference on Nigeria and the Lake Chad Region to take swift and sustained action. Acting now will minimise human suffering and mitigate economic and social devastation.
Approximately 17 million people live in affected areas across Niger, Chad, Nigeria and Cameroon; 10.7 million are in need of humanitarian assistance. Millions have been forcibly displaced, or are trapped in hard-to-reach areas—more than half of them are children.
Long-running violence incited by Boko Haram, and the military counter-offensive has forced millions of civilians to flee, impacted water access, caused food insecurity and malnutrition and increased child protection risks. The effects of climate change and dire poverty have exacerbated the crisis. As a child-focused organisation, World Vision is concerned about the well-being of children who have been affected by the conflict, particularly those who have been trapped by fighting, forcibly recruited into armed groups, made vulnerable to sexual exploitation and increased incidents of child marriage, exposed to violence and deprived of basic human rights, humanitarian assistance and education opportunities.
“This is a crisis of forgotten children." - Kathryn Taetzsch, the Lake Chad Basin Response Director
This is a crisis of forgotten children. Not only have children been forced to endure atrocities of enormous proportions, but many are also suffering the effects of hunger and illnesses. Some children are traumatised and require psychological support as well as medical assistance. We are especially worried about those children who have been caught up between armed groups and are now held hostage or forced to fight. Children who escaped violence have been living in fear for years, frequently surviving in spontaneous settlements that often lack basic necessities. Many have been forced to abandon their educational studies and some may never have the opportunity to return to the classroom”, says Kathryn Taetzsch, the Lake Chad Basin Response Director for World Vision.
Separated from their parents or caretakers, many children are struggling to survive on their own. These vulnerabilities fuel child marriages, sexual exploitation, child soldier recruitment and other grave child protection issues and negative coping strategies. The land is parched and Lake Chad itself is receding. Water points are scare, water quality is poor, harvests have dried up and livestock have perished. As a result social tensions have sprung up. The conflict has led to millions struggling with food and water insecurity. Traditional means to generate income like fishing, agriculture and trade have been limited or completely squashed.
“Surviving has become a near miracle”, says Taetzsch. “This generation’s” future is in peril.
“Surviving has become a near miracle”, says Taetzsch. “This generation’s” future is in peril. The scope of this crisis coupled with the humanitarian community’s inadequate response are nearly unprecedented. Decades of humanitarian and development gains are threatening to unravel if the global community continues to turn a blind eye to the scale and severity of the crisis. All actors must protect rights, uphold the rule of law, provide emergency water and food assistance, and prioritise ending violence against children.”
World Vision has worked alongside communities in West Africa to ensure the well-being of children for the past 30 years. The deteriorating humanitarian crisis across the Lake Chad Basin has moved World Vision to elevate its response to the equivalent of a UN Level 3 emergency. World Vision has established new programmes in Western Chad and scaled-up interventions in Eastern Niger to respond to the needs of 300,000 of the most vulnerable children and their families. World Vision is committed to building community resilience in the long-term.