About 1.1 million children would die if the conflict in the Northeast continues into another decade, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has estimated.
UNDP made the claim in a report assessing the impact of conflict on development in the northeast states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe.
The estimate is a disturbing increase compared to 324,000 deaths of children under the age of five in conflict-related circumstances in the region in the last decade of the insurgency war.
The report noted that every day of continued conflict in 2020 takes the lives of 170 under-five children, a figure that will grow to 240 by 2030.
“We estimate that for each death due to violent conflict, nearly nine more have been killed due to lack of food and resources…and for every year that conflict continues, the burden is felt increasingly by infants and children,” the UNDP said.
It stated that the real cost of the decade-long insurgency battle in the Northeast exceeds 35,000 deaths, according to national data estimates. It projects that by the end of 2020, about 350,000 people would have died; 314,000 of them a result of indirect causes, including starvation and poor living conditions.
“These deaths are the result of the conflict’s physical and economic effects. Insecurity has led to decline in agricultural production and trade, reducing access to food and threatening the many households who depend on agriculture for income,” it said.
“Moreover, displaced populations most often live in overcrowded and degraded living conditions without access to clean water and sanitation. Young children, who are especially vulnerable to malnutrition and disease from a lack of clean water, are hit hardest.”
Outlining development indicators for ‘No Conflict Situations’ and ‘Conflict situations’ through 2030, the UNDP reported that development in the Northeast under the No Conflict Situation was expected to grow steadily but slowly; poverty, infant mortality and malnutrition would gradually improve. On the other hand, in Conflict Situations, it said that the region could not undergo substantial improvement following the heavy fighting and destruction in 2015 and 2015.
For instance, with schools targeted and destroyed by insurgents in Conflict Situations, an average Nigerian in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states would have had 20 percent less education than expected in the No Conflict Situation.
“This setback in human development will require decades to recover from,” the UNDP said.
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