MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Violence and militant attacks against civilians in northeastern Nigeria and neighboring countries have forced more than 1 million children out of school, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said in a statement on Tuesday.
"The conflict has been a huge blow for education in the region, and violence has kept many children out of the classroom for more than a year, putting them at risk of dropping out of school altogether," UNICEF’s West and Central Africa Regional Director Manuel Fontaine said, as quoted in the statement.
Across Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger, over 2,000 schools remain closed due to conflicts, UNICEF said. Hundreds of schools have been attacked, looted or set on fire, according to the statement. In far north Cameroon, only one out of the 135 schools that were closed in 2014 has re-opened this year.
In 2016, UNICEF will need nearly $23 million to provide access to education for children affected by conflict in these countries, according to the statement.
Northeastern Nigeria has been mired in a conflict since 2009, when the Boko Haram extremist group began large-scale attacks in the region, seeking to impose strict Sharia law. In February, the group expanded its attacks to neighboring Niger, Cameroon and Chad, prompting these states' governments to launch a regional offensive against them.