2017: a ‘nightmare year’ for children
Is the judgement of UNICEF on what has been the year just concluded for children all over the world. And the numbers confirm that. In the Kasai region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, violence has driven 850,000 children from their homes and around 350,000 children have suffered severe malnutrition.
At least 135 children forced to act as suicide bombers in Nigeria and Cameroon. Same thing in Iraq and Syria, where children have been used as human shields, trapped under siege or targeted by snipers.
At least 5,000 children have died in the civil war that has raged for almost three years in Yemen and more than 11 million children are now in need of humanitarian assistance. In this country more than 1.8 million are suffering from malnutrition, around 385,000 of them so severely that they risk death if they are not urgently treated.
In the first 9 months of the year almost 700 children were killed in Afghanistan, where a “peace mission” has never ended.
In South Sudan, in Africa, more than 19,000 children have been recruited into armed forces and armed groups. And over 2,300 of them have been killed or injured since the conflict begun. Same thing in Somalia, where in the first 10 months of 2017, were reported 1,740 cases of child recruitment.
These are only part of the data concerning the situation of children in conflict zones around the world. “Children are being targeted and exposed to attacks and brutal violence in their homes, schools and playgrounds,” said Manuel Fontaine, Unicef Director of Emergency Programmes. “As these attacks continue year after year, we cannot become numb. Such brutality cannot be the new normal.”
In conflicts around the world, children have become frontline targets, used as human shields, killed, aimed and recruited to fight. In Asia, in Africa, everywhere. And millions more of them are paying the price of these conflicts, suffering from malnutrition, disease and trauma as basic services – including access to food, water, sanitation and health – are denied, damaged or destroyed in the fighting.
For them and many other children all over the planet, 2017 has been a nightmare year.