• Says more than 1.5m children at risk
Francis Sardauna in Katsina
No fewer than 600 persons have lost their lives and 1.3 million rendered homeless as a result of the devastating floods across 34 states in Nigeria, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has said.
UNICEF, in a statement Friday by its Representative in Nigeria, Cristian Munduate, said over 200,000 houses have been destroyed by the natural disaster in the affected states.
According to UNICEF, 2.5 million people in Nigeria are in need of humanitarian assistance – 60 per cent of which are children – and are at increased risk of waterborne diseases, drowning and malnutrition due to the most severe flooding in the past decade.
The statement added: “More than 1.5 million children are at risk as devastating floods hit Nigeria. The floods, which have affected 34 out of the 36 states in the country, have 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 12 October.
“As rains are expected to continue for several weeks, humanitarian needs are also expected to rise. Children and adolescents in flood-affected areas are in an extremely vulnerable situation. They are particularly at risk of waterborne diseases and emotional and psychological distress.”
The UN agency added that floods are adding a fresh layer of complexity to the precarious humanitarian situation in the country, saying the immediate priority needs for children include health, water, sanitation, hygiene, shelter and food.
It affirmed that more funding and resources are required to respond to growing needs and to sustain ongoing humanitarian interventions, with a focus on the most vulnerable, including children with disabilities.
Also, according to the UNICEF’s Children’s Climate Risk Index (CCRI), Nigeria is 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, due to inadequate essential services, such as water and sanitation, healthcare and education,” the statement added.