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14-day Borno lockdown begins today

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Babagana Zulum


NGOs make case for almajiri children

The lockdown ordered by Governor Babagana Zulum of Borno State begins today by 10.30p.m.Zulum had on Monday ordered lockdown of the north-eastern state for 14 days to prevent further spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

According to him, two cases have been recorded, including the aid worker that died last Saturday at the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital (UMTH).In a statewide broadcast in Maiduguri, the governor had said: “Our index case, as confirmed by Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), has brought to us a strong and dangerous warning.

“COVID-19 is real and has reached us in Borno State.”While announcing the two-week lockdown, he said: “In the exercise of the powers conferred on me, I have signed an executive order declaring COVID-19 as a dangerous disease.

“I am directing a total lockdown that will see to the cessation of all movements in Borno for an initial period of 14 days with effect from Wednesday, April 22, 2020 by 10.30p.m.”

Meanwhile, a forum of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) has called on the government to include almajiri children in its response plan to prevent a possible outbreak among them.

In a position paper, the five NGOs under the auspices of Advocates for Dan Almajiri, lauded the palliative measures rolled out by various governments with support from the private sector, but decried the exclusion of almajiri children who were already exposed to poor health conditions and the probability of contacting the virus.

The NGOs include Plan International Nigeria, Street Child, Riplington Education Initiative (REI), Almajiri Child Rights Initiatives, and ActionAid Nigeria.

According to a 2014 report by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the almajiri constitute 9.5 million of the country’s children within the ages of three and 14.

The forum observed that “while it is laudable that government is investing resources to maintain law and order during the pandemic, there is no evidence of special attention to issues affecting children, especially the almajiri and other street kids, who are more vulnerable in periods of emergency.”

It lamented that the almajiri children were far removed from all major sources of information on COVID-19 and the opportunity of parental guidance on the messages and guidelines.

The coalition called for the expansion of the social register to include the almajiri children.The other recommendations by the forum include provision of temporary shelter and proper safety and protection of the children in transit, in line with child protection and safeguarding principles as contained in the Convention on the Rights of Children, African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child and other conventions that the country signed.

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