•Nigeria, Syria, Mali, others named most dangerous places for children
By Adedayo Akinwale
A total of 93,236 children have been killed or maimed in conflicts in the last 10 years, a new report has revealed.
The report also named Nigeria, Syria, Somalia, Afghanistan, Yemen, DRC, Mali, CAR, Iraq, South Sudan and Sudan as the most dangerous countries for children in conflict.
The report revealed that an average of 25 children are killed or injured every day.
This was disclosed Friday in a new report released by Save the Children report, titled: “Killed and Maimed: A Generation of Violations Against Children In Conflict.”
The report which was the fourth in a series entitled Stop the War on Children, was also released to commemorate World Children’s Day.
It stated: “A total of 93,236 children have been killed or maimed in conflicts in the last 10 years, it was revealed today. That means 25 children, the equivalent of a classroom full of pupils, have been killed or injured on average every day.
“Many were victims of airstrikes, shelling, landmines and other explosive weapons used in populated areas where families have been ripped apart and tens of thousands of children left dead or scarred for life.
“Last year alone, more than a third of the verified child casualties were caused by explosive weapons – with the number dramatically higher in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.”
The report also revealed that in 2019, 426 million children lived in a conflict-affected area – a slight increase on the year before, while aeound 160 million children lived in a high-intensity conflict zone, also an increase compared to 2018.
The report noted that the impact of explosive weapons on children was complex, robbing families of their hopes and their ability to access vital services, and often profoundly altering the direction of a child’s life.
It said that over the past decade, more than 200,000 such violations were verified, adding that the record was sadly broken in 2019, which saw 26,233 grave violations committed.
The report noted that the actual number is likely to be even higher as some violations, notably sexual abuse, were grossly underreported.
The CEO of Save the Children, Inger Ashing, stated: “Behind the stark numbers are countless stories of the child victims of war. Many are casualties of people blatantly disregarding international laws and standards, and governments turning a blind eye. Yet several countries have made a conscious decision to keep selling arms to warring parties even where it was clear they were being used against children. This cannot go on.
“This weekend, the world’s richest and most powerful leaders gather in Saudi Arabia for the G20 summit in Riyadh. A day’s drive away, millions of vulnerable children in Yemen don’t know where their next meal will come from or if they will survive the next airstrike or artillery shelling. This is an opportunity for world leaders to use their influence and their voice to make the right choice, and to stop the war on children.”
The report said that even during the COVID-19 pandemic, when the focus should be on fighting the virus, warring parties continue killing and maiming children.
It stressed that the UN called for a global ceasefire in July, endorsed by 170 countries, but since then, 177 of children have been killed and maimed in Yemen , dozens have been killed or badly injured in Afghanistan, the violence in DRC has spiked, and children in Myanmar are frequent victims.
Earlier this year, the report said, the Saudi and Emirati-led coalition was taken off the UN’s ‘list of shame’, which calls out perpetrators of grave violations against children, adding that the coalition was delisted even though children in Yemen are still bombed almost daily.
Ashing continued: “Never in human history have we been more aware of child rights violations – bombings are verified, recruitment is documented and we see children starving on TV as they are denied aid. We have the means to prevent children from being harmed but we continue to see unbelievable violations, year on year. It is as if the world has stopped caring.”
The report added: “The most dangerous countries for children in conflict are Syria, Somalia, Afghanistan, Yemen, Nigeria, DRC, Mali, CAR, Iraq, South Sudan and Sudan;
‘More than 3 million children were living in an area where violence had been raging for 18 years or more; the number of children recruited by armed forces rose by 639 from 2018, to 7,845 in 2019. Over 3,100 children were found to have been recruited in the Democratic Republic of Congo alone;
“Over 4,400 times humanitarian organisations were denied access to children – six times as often as in 2018.”
To curb the disastrous impacts of explosive weapons on children, therefore, Save the Children called on states to curb the use of the weapons most harmful to children, limit the sale of such weapons if they might be used to commit or facilitate serious violations of international law, and hold those who disregard international laws and standards to account.
In addition, the organisation urged governments to ensure child protection is fully funded in humanitarian responses, including mental health support for children and their families.