Some stakeholders in Borno on Sunday commended various interventions of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) that continues to strive to secure children and women affected by insurgency.
The Stakeholders gave the commendation in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in commemoration of Children’s Day, designed to improve the welfare and quality of lives of children in Nigeria.
Alhaji Shettima Kullima, the Executive Chairman, Borno State Universal Basic Education Board noted UNICEF’s contributions in the development of education, particularly children’s enrolment in schools in the state.
He explained that the government had, through effective partnership with the fund, implemented programs and policies designed to ameliorate the plight of children and the people with impactful results.
He said that UNICEF had provided 650,000 school bags, exercise books and other instructional materials and temporary learning centres with a view to boost enrolment of pupils in schools.
According to him, the Fund has, in partnership with the state government, also trained and provided psychosocial support to no fewer than 10,000 teachers who were traumatized as a result of insurgency while imparting knowledge in classrooms.
He said the fund also contributed to Safe School Initiative (SSI), School Based Management Committees (SBMCs) and Conflict Disaster Risk Reduction within the past years.
“We want to commend UNICEF for renovating about 166 classrooms in 15 liberated councils in the state.
“Other areas of support include social and emotional learning support as well as Conflict Disaster Risk Reduction where pupils are encouraged to be alert to activities in their environment and to guard against possible attack by insurgents.
“Worthy of commendation is the enrolment campaign program, as result of which we are able to provide meals, school sandals and uniforms to the pupils.
“UNICEF has also supported us in the provision of standard Water Sanitation and Hygiene facilities in our schools; this has helped to boost the enrolment of young girls in schools.
“In the area of security, UNICEF also introduced the Safe School Initiative. Under this intervention, barb wire fences were constructed and the authorities trained to be more conscious and alert to safeguard our pupils.
Danjuma Gambo, Prof. of Development Communication in UNIMAID, also expressed similar appreciation for the efforts of UNICEF in the state.
Gambo, who is also the Director of UNIMAID Radio, said the station was currently in partnership with UNICEF to provide children with access to its programmes and give them opportunity to have a voice on matters affecting them.
“But for the efforts of UNICEF, many children would have been lost to diseases and other disasters that we experienced following the humanitarian crisis in the northeast.
“UNICEF is virtually everywhere. You can see UNICEF in every aspect and their commitment to achieve their mandate is beyond doubt,’’ Gambo said.
He urged the UN agency to continue to sustain its commitment, especially in the areas of rehabilitation, resettlement, reconstruction and recovery to enhance protection of children and women in liberated communities.
“I believe more services of UNICEF will be needed in post insurgency efforts. I have confidence that the organisation has the capacity to handle the tasks, despite the challenges in the environment,’’ Gambo said.
Malam Bukar Dalorima, a parent also lauded the fund for its interventions, which he said had positively impacted on his children.
“I have four children who are going to primary school and all of them have benefited from the bags from UNICEF. The organisation has made direct impact to our people.
“When you see students, you will think those bags are also part of their uniforms,’’ Dalorima said.
Dalorima’s daughter, Amina who is in primary two, told NAN that the support from UNICEF had encouraged her to study more.
She said she was inspired go to school because of her bag, free meal and the N20 support from her father.
Amina also said that she was determined to complete her school with an impressive result to enable her to achieve her dream to become a medical doctor and to save her ailing mother who was sick.
Ibrahim Babagana, a staff of the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital, praised UNICEF for providing water, sanitation and hygiene, child protection, immunisation and other interventions in camps for Internally Displaced Persons and host communities, among others.
“Women and children have had cause to smile owing to the tremendous support from UNICEF. The maternal and new born child component is also one of the areas it has made significant impact,’’ he said.
Alhaji Lawal Umar-lalu, the Maiduguri Zonal Director of the Nigerian Television Authority, commended the fund for its communication programmes which aim to create awareness on issues that affect children.
Umar-Lalu commended the organisation for providing training opportunities to strengthen the capacity of journalists in the conflict zone to monitor and report cases affecting children in a professional manner.
“Through these workshops, journalists become more proactive to issues about children and this encourages them to design and produce quality programmes about children and the public at large,’’ he said.
He explained that the station had provided the Fund with free air time to promote its humanitarian and development programmes.
Umar-Lalu urged UNICEF to reintroduce its program that provides equipment and other working tools to enhance the media operations.