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The Sahel central: about 5 million children to care for the increase of violence, the curse of the gold mines

the ROME – According to UNICEF, approximately 5 million children in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, will need humanitarian assistance in 2020, an increasing num

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The Sahel central: about 5 million children to care for the increase of violence, the curse of the gold mines
the ROME – According to UNICEF, approximately 5 million children in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, will need humanitarian assistance in 2020, an increasing number compared to the previous 4.3 million. This forecast is linked to an increase in violence, including attacks against children and civilians, abductions and recruitment of children in armed groups, which - according to a rrecente report of the International Crisis Group (Icg) - aspire to the control of the thriving gold mining, which is developing, in fact, in Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso, now considered the new "credit line" for the numerous bands in circulation, including those inspired jihadist.

The usual curse of having the gold under the feet. Are now about 4 years that the phenomenon is infesting the whole area: in the viewfinder there are mining sites, where they have been detected huge expanses of goldfields, which are located below the Sahara desert, in an area that should be from Sudan to Mauritania. All of this puts a strain on the capacity of the control of the Member, which, as always happens in Africa, you are to handle the presence of immense wealth in its subsoil, able, however, to become real curses for the civilian population. It happens so that the formations international, but all of the armed groups, they have the opportunity to run around undisturbed, taking their control of whole regions to the sound of bombings, and violence against anyone who opposes resistance.

attacks against children. Have increased in the past year; for example, Mali has registered 571 grave violations against children in the first 9 months of 2019, compared to 544 in 2018 and 386 of 2017. From the beginning of 2019, more than 670.000 children in the region were forced to leave their homes because of armed conflict and insecurity. “When we look at the situation in the Sahel central - says Marie-Pierre Poirier, the regional director of UNICEF for West and Central Africa - we can not be affected by the extent of the violence that children are facing. Are killed, mutilated and the victims of sexual abuse, hundreds of thousands of them have lived traumatic experiences. The children affected by the violence in the Sahel Central - he added - urgently need protection and support. UNICEF calls on governments, the armed forces, to the non-state armed groups and other parties to the conflict to stop all this”.

The devastating consequences on learning. The increase of violence also has devastating consequences on children's learning. At the end of 2019, more than 3,300 schools in all three countries were closed or not in operation due to violence – a six-fold increase compared to April 2017 – hitting 650,000 children and 16,000 teachers. The insecurity and displacement are creating significant barriers for children and families who seek access to essential services, food aid and nutrition – risk factors that can lead to a deterioration of the nutritional status and health of children. UNICEF estimates that in the Sahel, central, in addition 709.000 children under 5 years suffer from severe malnutrition and will need life-saving treatments this year.

The difficult access to water. In the meantime, the access of households to safe water is decreasing. Only in Burkina Faso, access to safe water has decreased by 10% from 2018 to 2019 in areas where internally displaced persons account for over a fifth of the population. Some areas have suffered a decrease by as much as 40%. UNICEF is on the field in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, working with partners to provide children with the necessary support and services for the protection, education, health, nutrition, water and sanitation. The appeal of UNICEF for the year 2020 is to be able to collect 208 million dollars for this huge job.

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