European Interest

2017 a ‘nightmare year’ for children in conflict

Flickr/James/CC BY 2.0
Iraqi children in the Al-Madain area of eastern Baghdad, Iraq.

The United Nations’ agency for children (Unicef) has issued a sobering report highlighting the “shocking scale” of harm to children and how the world has failed them.

“Children in conflict zones around the world have come under attack at a shocking scale throughout the year,” Unicef said in a statement, adding that parties to conflicts were “blatantly disregarding international laws designed to protect the most vulnerable”.

Children were being targeted in places where they should feel safe, including their homes, schools and playgrounds, Unicef said.

“As these attacks continue year after year, we cannot become numb. Such brutality cannot be the new normal,” Unicef Director of Emergency Programmes Manuel Fontaine said.

As reported by CNN, Unicef’s report highlights several conflicts that have had a significant impact on children. For instance, violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s Kasai region has driven 850,000 children from their homes. More than 400 schools were attacked, and an estimated 350,000 children have suffered from severe acute malnutrition.

Also, in Iraq and Syria, children have reportedly been used as human shields, trapped under siege, targeted by snipers and lived through intense bombardment and violence. Critically ill children are currently part of a people-swap deal between armed rebels and the Syrian government.

In Myanmar, ethnic-minority Rohingya children are among those attacked and driven from their homes in Rakhine state, in ongoing violence between government forces and Rohingya fighters.

In Afghanistan, almost 700 children were killed in the first nine months of the year. In Somalia, 1,740 cases of child recruitment were reported in the first 10 months of 2017.

In eastern Ukraine, 220,000 children lived under constant threat of mines and other explosive remnants of war.

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