UNICEF, EU-UN raise alarm over rising COVID-19, GBV cases in Nigeria

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United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) Nigeria has raised concern over the growing rate of Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Gender-Based Violence (GBV) cases in Nigeria. 

UNICEF said this, Monday, in Enugu at the opening ceremony of a two day Media Dialogue on Ending Violence Against Children, Women and Girls in Cross River and Ebonyi States by EU-UN (European Union and United Nations) Spotlight Initiative (SI) and National Orientation Agency (NOA), Ebonyi State.

“In Nigeria, as at yesterday report from Wikipedia shows that current COVID-19 case stands at 24, 567 and we need to brace up because of the way things we things are goings,” the  Chief of Field Office, UNICEF, Enugu, Dr. Ibrahim Conteh said.

He said “because of our environmental factors we had thought the virus will not spread as it should be but that is not the case and we need to step up our preventive practices”.

Conteh expressed satisfaction that the rate of fatality as a result of the virus is lower as compared to what it was at the beginning and this is as a result awareness from the doctors enlightening people on early dictation and treatment which makes survival level high.

He said that ‘there is a lot ahead of us as we have responsibility to continue to deliver on our programmes. If we sit back it will be more fatal and it is very difficult to contend people….people find it difficult to stay at home because of the need to survive and feed the family. This virus does not look like it will finish on time”.

Conteh said “the message of COVID-19 resonates in big cities but in villages people do not care and when you are complacent, it will be difficult to manage and what is happening now is community transmission and the media has a big role to play on this for the message to get to the communities, so let us continue to work together to send out these enlightenment massages on COVID-19 and violence against children, Women and Girls”.

On her part, the UNICEF Communication Specialist, Enugu Field Office, Mrs. Ijeoma Onuoha-Ogwe noted that more women and girls were becoming victims of GBV in the country in this coronavirus lockdown than it used to be.

She said, “Cross River and Ebonyi states have cases of GBV very high not that it is not happening in other parts of the country or elsewhere in the world but it has become pertinent that Spotlight Initiative in collaboration with NOA, Ebonyi state bring this to the fore so that it is being looked into”.

In view of this, she stated, some sections of the constitution of the Country needs to be amended  to tackle the phenomenon and bring an end to it.

On his part Child Protection Specialist of UNICEF, Mr.  Victor Atuchukwu  said there  are reasons why  Spotlight Initiative decided to pilot the GBV intervention programmes in the selected states adding that they were basically on facts gathered in those states which were not too palatable and the narrative needed to be urgently dealt with .

He also advised journalists to always consider the survivors by portraying the right narratives instead of painting them as victims.

Atuchukwu who explained that gender which refers to the physical and biological differences between male and female has evolved in context over time due to culture and tradition and there was need to consciously enlighten the traditional institution on the negative impact of all forms of GBV adding that ending blame game which he described as unacceptable must stop.

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