Actor and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Orlando Bloom met with children displaced by Boko Haram at the end of last month. Bloom travelled to Diffa, in south-east Niger to highlight the ongoing humanitarian crisis in the Lake Chad Basin where Boko Haram violence has caused huge population displacements.
In areas affected by the violence in Niger, Nigeria, Chad and Cameroon, 2.3 million people are now displaced, making this one of the fastest growing displacement crises in Africa. The Diffa region currently hosts over 240,000 internally displaced persons, refugees and returnees – including 160,000 children.
Bloom met with children such as 14 year old Amada Coni, who has been living with his family in Garin Wazam, a camp for displaced persons. When the crisis began, many of Amada’s friends joined Boko Haram, some voluntarily, others not. Amada told Bloom, “I feel safe here but I often have nightmares.” When Bloom asked what it would take for the boy to feel safe again, he replied, “I will only feel safe when there is no more Boko Haram.”
For the hundreds of thousands of children across the region who have been displaced from their homes, many are out of education and at risk of malnutrition.
Bloom said that it is hard to imagine the suffering that these people are facing. “I’m only three plane rides away from an existence which is so far removed from this one,” he said. “It’s hard when you are not here to be able to comprehend or understand the depth of pain and distress that these kids are going through.”
The actor was moved to tears when he considered the plight of the children in particular. “I have a six year old myself,” he said. “It’s hard to imagine him here, you know, as a parent, what it must be like.”
UNICEF is assisting displaced families with basic services like clean water, medical care and education. However, a shortage of funding and difficult access due to insecurity has hindered the delivery of humanitarian assistance to thousands of children in need.
For more information about the work of UNICEF, including how you can help, see their website