–Children increasingly targeted in conflict zones

February 15, 2018


2018-02-15 13:24:39

The report analysed data from the United Nations as well as research by the Peace Research Institute of Oslo.

It found that in 2016 about one in six children we’re living in conflict zones, with children in Syria, Afghanistan and Somalia the worst affected.

Save the Children spoke to children and parents in some of these conflict zones.

People like 13 year-old Rasha who fled Syria with her family when six years ago.

Now living with her family as refugees in Jordan, she told Save the Children her worst memory remains the bombing of her local school.

“What I saw was truly terrifying. I saw one of my friends [male], my school was mixed gender, he died in front of me and I saw the blood. So we left and got back home and I was in a bad state and I couldn’t do anything but sleep. My brothers went to the school to get people from under the rubble. We were all crying, it was really horrific.’

United Nations figures show more than 73,000 children have been killed or maimed in 25 conflicts since 2005, the year it started collating such statistics, according to the report.

ince 2010, the number of UN-verified cases of children being killed and maimed has gone up by almost 300 per cent.

Increased urbanisation, longer-running conflicts and a rise in the number of schools and hospitals being targeted heightened the danger for children, according to Save the Children.

Other threats include abduction and sexual violence.

Save the Children’s Global Campaign and Advocacy Director, Kitty Arie, says being in a conflict zone can have many long lasting effects.

“The sort of things they’re dealing with are everything from post-traumatic stress disorder, bombing of hospitals and schools. The way this manifests itself for children is they are experiencing quite a lot of psychosocial trauma including nightmares, bedwetting, inability to concentrate and stay in school. There is a whole cycle of trauma that follows.”

Daphne Cook is with Save the Children in Cox’s Bazar, a fishing town in Bangladesh where Rohingya from Myanmar have sought refuge after being forced to flee their homes.

The report estimates that 58 per cent of the residents there are children, many of whom have lost their parents.

Most have been subjected to violence, either witnessing violence or being assaulted themselves.

Ms Cook says most children are unable to access an education in the camp making the days long.

For girls the situation is worse.

“A lot of them particularly girls are very worried about being kidnapped or assaulted. A lot of them stay in doors all day. Some kids are relatively fortunate in that they can access some of the services being provided by aid agencies like Save the Children. So Save the Children is running a network of what we call child friendly spaces which is where kids can come. There’s toys there’s games, there is trained facilitators who are here to help with psycho-social support and basically support kids while they have a space to be children again. But yes it’s a hard life for kids in these camps.”

Save the Children said the worsening situation for children in conflict zones was due to increased fighting in towns and cities, and the growing use of bombs in densely populated areas.

Youth are also increasingly being recruited as suicide bombers.

Due to the risks, many major media outlets are no longer sending journalists to conflict zones, prompting NGO’s to produce their own stories about what’s happening on the ground.


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