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Niger crisis heightens danger for millions of children: UN

Demonstrators in Niger's capital Niamey chanted slogans hostile to former colonial power France and West African regional bloc ECOWAS
Demonstrators in Niger's capital Niamey chanted slogans hostile to former colonial power France and West African regional bloc ECOWAS - Copyright Russian Space Agency Roscosmos/AFP Handout
Demonstrators in Niger's capital Niamey chanted slogans hostile to former colonial power France and West African regional bloc ECOWAS - Copyright Russian Space Agency Roscosmos/AFP Handout

The crisis in Niger, whose president was overthrown on July 26, is amplifying risks for millions of vulnerable youngsters, the UN’s children’s fund said.

“The current situation is of great concern and adds a heavy burden to an already dire humanitarian landscape,” UNICEF’s Niger representative, Stefano Savi, said in a statement.

“At present, more than two million children have been impacted by the crisis and are in desperate need of humanitarian assistance.”

Even before the latest instability, around 1.5 million children under the age of five were forecast to be malnourished in 2023, he said in the statement dated Saturday.

The landlocked Sahel state ranks among the most turbulent and poorest countries in the world, often ranking at the bottom of the UN’s Human Development Index, a benchmark of prosperity.

The country’s democratically elected president, Mohamed Bazoum, was toppled on July 26, triggering worldwide condemnation as well as trade sanctions by Niger’s neighbours.

Food insecurity in the Central Sahel

Food insecurity in the Central Sahel – Copyright AFP/File EDUARDO SOTERAS

UNICEF said it was continuing to provide support but faced mounting hurdles.

It was worried about the loss of electricity, which was crucial for keeping childhood vaccines and other essentials chilled.

It also expressed concern for 21 containers of “life-saving supplies” that it said were stuck at the border in Benin and the Benin port of Cotonou. Another 29 containers for Niger are currently at sea, with emergency food and syringes.

“UNICEF urgently calls on all parties to the crisis to ensure that humanitarian workers and supplies safely reach the most vulnerable children and families where urgently needed,” said Savo.

“We also ask that critical humanitarian programmes are safeguarded against the impact of sanctions and funding cuts.”

AFP
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