New York, June 1 (IANS) Education Cannot Wait (ECW), the United Nations global fund for education in emergencies and protracted crises, on Wednesday announced $2 million grant in financing for a new education in emergencies response that will reach 22,000 children and adolescents impacted by instability and the growing refugee crisis in Niger.
The new investment will be delivered by United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) with local strategic partners and will address the impact of insecurity on the closure of schools and the endangerment of out-of-school children in the Maradi and Tahoua regions of Niger.
Niger hosts more than half a million “people of concern”, including internally displaced persons, refugees, returnees and asylum seekers, according to UNHCR.
Due to an increase in the ongoing insecurity which has been prevailing since 2019 in the north-west Nigerian border regions with Niger, namely Tahoua and Maradi, population displacements have increased in the last half of 2021 and beginning of 2022.
Nearly 34,000 new Nigerian refugees were registered by UNHCR in these two regions between August and September 2021.
As many as 23,000 new refugees arrived in August 2021 in the Maradi region, and 11,070 others arrived in the commune of Bangui in September 2021 in the Tahoua region.
Since March 10, 1,881 new families of 13,537 individuals have arrived from Nigeria in the Maradi region.
Seven out of 10 of the newly arrived refugees are children. Their access to education is becoming an increasing challenge due to the unpreparedness of the education system to receive them, cultural practices, and the continued displacement of households due to the activities of armed forces and non-state armed groups.
“Especially girls are at extreme risk of dropping out and being subjected to gender-based violence, while boys are exposed to recruitment into armed groups. With UNHCR and local strategic partners, this new investment seeks to provide refugee girls and boys and their host-communities with protective and safe learning spaces, so that they can learn and grow in some form of safety and dignity. They deserve no less,” said Yasmine Sherif, ECW Director.
The investment builds on ECW’s multi-year resilience programme in Niger, which seeks to reach more than a quarter of a million crisis-affected children and adolescents and mobilise an additional $39 million.
The 12-month grant targets 11,000 refugees, 6,000 internally displaced persons, and close to 5,000 members of the host communities. In all, 60 per cent of the investment beneficiaries are girls and 10 per cent are children living with disabilities.
“The strategic partnership between UNHCR and ECW is of the utmost importance to us. It enables UNHCR and its partners to provide quality education to refugees, internally displaced persons, and other vulnerable people affected by terrorist violence. The focus on girls’ education is critical and is also in line with the Niger government’s priority to fully include girls in the national education system. We know such approach is key in building sustainable peace, here in Niger as much as in other parts of the world,” said Emmanuel Gignac, UNHCR Representative in Niger.
The investment will improve access to formal and non-formal education for crisis-affected children and adolescents by providing learning materials and supporting teacher training, increase the availability of appropriate transitional classes for out-of-school children and older adolescents, and build and rehabilitate school facilities, including water and sanitation facilities and temporary learning spaces.