DAKAR/NEW YORK, 3 September 2018 – Ongoing conflict, displacement and fear of attacks on schools is putting the education of more than 3.5 million children at risk in the Lake Chad Basin, with almost 1,000 schools closed or non-functional due to violence or unrest in northeast Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon and Niger, UNICEF warned today.

“Where there is insecurity, education can be both life-sustaining and life-saving,” said Manuel Fontaine, UNICEF’s Director of Emergency Programmes. “Education supports children and young people’s lifelong learning. It gives them the necessary skills to build a better future for themselves and their families, and to contribute to peaceful and prosperous communities. Yet too often overall humanitarian education funding is lacking in emergencies.”

UNICEF has called for USD$41.7 million to meet the education needs of children in the crisis, and this appeal has received just 8 per cent of this amount in the first half of 2018.

On 3 and 4 September 2018, governments, multilateral and international organisations and civil society actors are meeting in Berlin for the second conference on the Lake Chad Basin, aiming to maintain the momentum generated by the 2017 Oslo conference, and raise support for continuing humanitarian response.

Despite ongoing challenges including insecurity, displacement and poverty, last year UNICEF and partners supported national governments to ensure that more than one million crisis-affected children were able to go back to school in the region.

UNICEF and partners have also provided safe evacuation and lockdown training for approximately 150,000 primary school students, in the event of attacks or security incidents occurring during the school day. Almost 2,000 teachers were trained in resilient education based on disaster risk reduction, and more than 14,000 teachers received training on integrating psychosocial support into their lessons. Communities were engaged to participate in the continuous protection of schools, and in Nigeria this knowledge is being integrated in the training of pre-service teachers.

“As communities recover from conflict, sustained investments in services such as education are essential for the long-term stability and well-being of the region and its children,” said Marie-Pierre Poirier, UNICEF’s Regional Director for West and Central Africa. “We also urge all states to endorse the Safe Schools Declaration, and put in place mechanisms for children to be protected in schools, even during conflict.”

One of the poorest regions in the world, the Lake Chad Basin has seen more than nine years of conflict and instability. Although the security situation has improved, more than 10 million people, including 6 million children, are still in need of humanitarian assistance, and 2.4 million people are displaced. Continued violence and recurrent attacks on villages and towns make it difficult for displaced persons to return home and rebuild their lives.