The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), has urged the Governments of West and Central African countries to prioritise education in its COVID-19 recovery plans to reduce the impact of the pandemic crisis on children and the economy.

It also canvassed safe re-opening of schools for children, with clear public health, hygiene and sanitation protocols.

UNICEF Regional Director for West and Central Africa, Marie-Pierre Poirier, revealed that only seven of the 24 West and Central African countries ready and reopened their schools to their children for the 2020-2021 academic session.

She said COVID-19 had dislocated the education of millions of children in West and Central Africa, lamenting that the region was already facing challenges in the provision of quality education to children, even in humanitarian contexts.

Poirier noted that with each passing day, millions of children and young people, who have been unable to access learning opportunities were missing out on their right to education and putting their future at risk.

Meanwhile, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and the Nigerian Red Cross (NRC) have commenced the distribution of Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) and risk communication efforts amounting to of N228m to support COVID-19 intervention in Nigeria.

This intervention is part of The Coca-Cola Foundation’s $2.5m grant to the IFRC to support the COVID-19 pandemic in the West and Central Africa sub-regions.

Managing Director, Coca-Cola Nigeria Limited, Yebeltal Getachew, said: “The Coca-Cola System (Coca-Cola Nigeria, Nigeria Bottling Company and Chi Limited) remains committed to providing support to the communities we serve during these challenging times.” Medical supplies being donated comprise N95 respirators, surgical masks, examination gloves, face shields, medical gowns, no-touch thermometers, disposable aprons, heavy-duty rubber gloves, rubber boots, basic masks, disposable gloves and hand sanitisers. Commending the company for the donations, Secretary-General of the Nigerian Red Cross Society, Abubakar Kende, said the organization has identified the facilities in urgent need of these PPEs in consultation with NCDC and the Federal Ministry of Health and they will subsequently be distributed to these centres.

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