A new study by the United Nations Children’s Fund has revealed that Nigeria lost approximately $100bn from 2008 to 2021, due to conflict in the northeast.
The report also highlighted how violence and gross violations against children led to a dire economic downturn, affecting not just the conflicted region but the country as a whole.
The report titled, ‘The economic cost of conflict in northeast Nigeria’, projects that even if the conflict ends now, the cumulative losses would be $150bn to $200bn by 2030, while the cumulative losses by 2030 due to lost educational opportunities would be $150bn.
Speaking at the launch of the report in Abuja on Wednesday, the UNICEF Representative, Cristian Munduate, said the study reveals that as of 2021, the Nigerian economy was 2.5 per cent smaller than it would have been without the conflict.
“This is more than just numbers; it goes beyond numbers and statistics. As of 2021, the Nigerian economy was 2.5 per cent smaller than it would have been without the conflict, and this is something that needs to be present in the consideration and the decision-making of the nation.
“But beyond the figures, there lie stories of shattered lives, of broken families, and of lost opportunities, and perhaps, the most heartbreaking aspect of this study is the impact on our children.
“In 2021, it was estimated that one million children missed school due to the conflict, around 900,000 children were reported to suffer malnutrition, and close to 300,000 were reported to suffer acute malnutrition.”
According to her, the report is an urgent call to action to safeguard the future of the young generation.
“It is our duty to act and it is our moral imperative to respond. The time to act is now. The future of our children and our nation’s economic growth is at stake. We must prioritise peace and the protection of children’s rights to ensure a brighter future for Nigeria.
“Each statistic in this report represents a child, a future, a hope. Beyond the staggering figures, there is a compelling call to action. We cannot ignore it. The stakes are simply too high,” Munduate added.
Also, the Chief Child Protection Specialist, UNICEF Nigeria, Ibrahim Sesay, said the lives behind the figures are critical to take note of.
He said, “When you look at the grave violations that have been encountered by children, just from 2016 to date, we have over 14,890 documented and verified cases of grave violations against children in Nigeria. Each of the numbers represents a tragedy for these children and their families.
“We also see the deprivation of education where the children should be in school, their families are possibly displaced from their homes and communities are struggling in an era where there is cash famine.
“The report should not be seen as a tale of despair but it should guide us to understanding the level of compassion and concerted action that we should put into motion and how to make sure the children are back to school, put our efforts and resources in promoting psychosocial recovery of the children.”
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