(Foreground) Zaly Maazou, 7, and other children attend their first-grade class at Block B School in the Abala camp for Malian refugees, in Tillabéri Region. Zaly’s education was interrupted when he, his parents and four siblings fled violence in their rural commune of Anderamboukane, in the Gao Region of Mali. The school he now attends is among two that have recently been built in the Abala camp through UNICEF support. Before the schools were constructed, children attended class outdoors. UNICEF also covers the employment costs of the schools’ two principals and 28 teachers as well as the provision of educational supply kits and water, sanitation and hygiene facilities.

In May 2013, Niger continues to host an estimated 50,000 Malian refugees – further constraining the country’s already limited resources. Both Niger and Mali are among nine countries in the Sahel region – also including Burkina Faso, Chad, the Gambia, Mauritania, Senegal, and the northern parts of Cameroon and Nigeria – facing a severe food and nutrition crisis. The emergency is the result of repeated drought-related food shortages. Though conditions have improved since the height of the crisis in early 2012, an estimated 3.1 million people in the Niger are affected by food insecurity, including over 376,700 children under age 5 suffering from severe acute malnutrition. In April, ongoing wet feeding activities benefitted 5,769 children aged 6 to 59 months in four refugee camps. UNICEF is also supporting programmes in education and child protection, including the provision of child-friendly spaces, in the camps. Initiatives to provide safe water and sanitation facilities to refugees are extending to some host communities, and responses to a recently declared cholera epidemic are also ongoing. To continue emergency responses throughout 2013, UNICEF requires nearly US$33.8 million, of which half remained unfunded by 22 May.