• Centre organises skills acquisition workshop for IDP camps

Paul Obi in Abuja

As the world celebrates the African Child’s Day, Plan International, a global advocacy group, yesterday said about 196 teachers and 314 school children were killed in the ongoing Boko Haram insurgency in the northern part of the country.

Country Director of Plan International, Dr Hussaini Abdu, stated this Thursday in Abuja at a symposium to mark the day, stating that, children continued to face a brutish future since the Boko Haram insurgency started.

He said: “It is reported that over 300 schools have been severely damaged or destroyed and at least 196 teachers and 314 school children were killed in the period of Boko Haram insurgency.

“The last six to seven years have been difficult for Nigerian children, especially those in the North-east states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe. The region has been ravaged by devastating Boko Haram insurgency and state military action.”

According to Abdu, “since 2009 when Boko Haram started, its violent campaign, over 20,000 have been reported killed, 2.2 million displaced, many of them women and children. As at June 15, 2016, 14.8 million people have been affected by this crisis. Seven million of these numbers are in need of humanitarian assistance, of which only 3.9 million are being covered.”

He further called for the strengthening of the Child Rights’ Act by government, stressing that with the devastation in the North-east, it is incumbent on Borno, Adamawa and Yobe States to enact such laws that safeguard against abuse of children rights.

The Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, represented by Deputy Director, Basic Education, Mrs. Ariba Opeyemi Adeleye, said government remained committed to providing protection for children in conflict zones.

“Nigeria has recorded appreciable progress in protecting the Nigerian children during conflict and crises, particularly in the area of taking care of internally displaced children as a result of insurgency in the north-east,” the minister said.

He cited the relocation of “2,400 displaced secondary school students from states in high risk areas and transferred them to Federal Unity Colleges in safe areas on government’s scholarship” as government intervention programme to rescue children caught up in the Boko Haram insurgency.

Guest Speaker and Former Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Prof. Chidi Odinkalu, called for concerted efforts to ensure that policies are implemented to provide adequate protection for children.

Meanwhile, the Maria Centre, an initiative of Sisters of Our Lady of Apostles, Abuja, is to organise an empowerment and skills acquisition workshop for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) at the David IDP Camp, Durumi, Area 1, Abuja, next week Thursday.

Maria Centre National Coordinator, Rev. Sr Anna Falola, said: “The aim of the workshop is to provide friendship, support, counselling, empowerment and skills for vulnerable girls and women who are living in IDP camps and other slum areas within the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.”
Falola further observed that the need to organise the skills acquisition workshop had become sacrosanct given that “the level of poverty and the growing number of people with poor living conditions in slums has become more alarming in the last two years.”

She stated that the programme had commenced since March 8, 2016 where “about 30 women were trained on producing beautiful beaded bags, sandals, purses, bracelets and necklaces. Also, they produced liquid and tablet soaps. The women have had classes on hygiene and nutrition, while they have learnt to make some snacks and soya milk for nourishing their children.”