The United Nations says attacks, abuse and abductions of children in west and central African nations have created a “spiralling protection crisis for children as the regions are on the brink of catastrophe”.
The UN’s children fund chief, Henrietta Fore said incidents appeared to be increasing in frequency, raising fears for the safety and wellbeing of children. She made reference to events in Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Niger and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The latest UN report on children in armed conflict says a third of victims of grave violations have been in west and central Africa.
In Nigeria, the UN estimates that at least 950 students have been abducted from their schools by armed men since December.
Over the past six weeks alone, nearly 500 children were abducted in four separate incidents across the central and north-west parts of the country.
Many of these children remain in captivity.
Unicef says these attacks have hampered humanitarian efforts and calls on armed groups to allow aid agencies to reach vulnerable children in the region.