According to a new report by the United Nations Children’s Fund titled “The Economic Cost of Conflict in Northeast Nigeria,” Nigeria lost around $100 billion between 2008 and 2021 due to the conflict that exists in the northeast. A severe economic downturn, affecting not only the troubled region but the entire country, was also emphasised in the report as a direct result of violence and unacceptable violations against children. Even if the conflict stops now, it is estimated that $200 billion will be lost by 2030, and $150 billion will be lost due to lost educational opportunities.
At the report’s launch on Wednesday in Abuja, UNICEF Representative Cristian Munduate stated that the study found that the Nigerian economy was lower than it probably would been without the violence. This isn’t just a matter of numbers; it surpasses mere statistics. In context, as of the year 2021, the economy of Nigeria was 2.5% lower than what it probably would have been if the conflict hadn’t occurred, and this reflects a factor that needs to be present in both the consideration and the decision-making processes of the nation.
Many children suffer the consequences of violent actions.
Behind the statistics are individuals whose lives have been wrecked, whose families have been torn apart, and who have missed out on many opportunities. Perhaps the most tragic component of this study is the impact it has had on the children. About 900,000 children were reported to be malnourished in 2021, including close to 300,000 who were suffering from acute malnutrition. One million children were also predicted to have missed school because of the conflict. She states that the study is a call to action that must be taken right away to protect the future of young people.
More so, they must take responsibility and respond accordingly. Now is the moment to take action. The economic development of the country and the future of its children are at risk. Peace and the protection of children’s rights must be prioritised if Nigeria is to have any hope of a better future. Each statistic in this report reflects a child, a future, or a hope. A powerful call to action lies beneath the startling statistics. They can’t just disregard it. The risks are too great, Munduate said.
There are over 14,890 documented violation incidents against children.
Additionally, Ibrahim Sesay, the Chief Child Protection Specialist for UNICEF Nigeria, emphasised the need to pay attention to the people whose lives are represented by the statistics. He stated that when one looks at the terrible violations that have been suffered by children, they have over 14,890 documented and verified incidents of serious violations involving children in Nigeria. This figure just includes the time period from 2016 to the present. Every one of these digits denotes a catastrophe that has befallen these children along with their families.
They also observe the loss of education that occurs when children who should be attending school are not, their families are probably dislocated from their homes, and their neighbourhoods’ are struggling during a time when there is a shortage of money. The report shouldn’t be read as a grim narrative of distress but as a roadmap for figuring out how much kindness and cooperation to muster and what steps to take to get the children back in class and invest in their psychological and emotional well-being.
Insecurity, which is the root of the problem.
Similarly, Governor Babagana Zulum of Borno State stated insecurity and the psychological effects of the violence on children must be addressed. Though the report focuses on the economic impact of the struggle in the northeast, his Chief Adviser, Adamu Abass, who represented him, stated there are greater consequences for the children. According to him, it’s essential to make such an evaluation so that people can participate fully in and capitalise on society. A nation’s future lies in its children. There is also the problem of insecurity within this context of conflict. They can keep treating the symptoms, but they won’t get anywhere unless they tackle the root cause of the problem.