In times of crisis, such as after a conflict or natural disaster, children need reliable places where they can continue to learn, play, and realize their full potential. They also need adequate and nutritious food so their bodies, brains, and immune systems can develop properly. They need a healthcare system that works to prevent them from getting sick, and one that can treat them if they do get sick.
Around the world, schools are coming under attack. Sports fields become battlefields. Classrooms become munitions rooms. This practice endangers children’s lives, their teachers’ lives, and denies hundreds of thousands of kids their right to education.
The actions of Boko Haram in Nigeria have left nearly 50,000 children, primarily girls, displaced from their homes and out of school and have also led to widespread famine affecting nearly 6.3 million people. You may have heard about the three hundred girls who were kidnapped from a school in Chibok, Nigeria, in 2014 by Boko Haram. Lesser known is that families’ homes and farmlands have been cut off by the group, with some areas now only reachable by helicopter, resulting in lost income and food supply. Children who are not in school and are not fed cannot learn and lift their families and communities out of extreme poverty.
Hear one rescued Chibok's story of what life was like under Boko Haram:
Last week, we heard that Japan is attending the conference and will give the remaining funds needed for polio vaccination efforts in the region. Now we want to see similar actions on education and food security.
We want to make sure all leaders attending the summit commit to signing the Safe Schools Declaration asking countries to condemn attacks on schools, protect education during armed conflict, and offer supervision, services and teaching to save children’s lives. Fifty-seven countries have already committed, but we want countries like Canada and France to add their names to this list to protect and rehabilitate children affected by targeted attacks on their schools. We also want them to urgently improve their food, nutrition, and health care services and funding to the region.
Help us send a message to world leaders that the conflict and crisis affecting children in the Lake Chad region and Nigeria can be addressed with their help this week.