One in four children worldwide are being 'robbed of their childhood', finds major new report

New global index highlights extent of conflict, child labour, early marriage, lack of schooling and healthcare experienced by children around the globe

Thursday 01 June 2017 11:26 BST
Ahlam's story

Ahlam, from Baiji in northern Iraq, is only 12 years old, but she’s been forced to grow up quickly.

Displaced not just once, but twice by Isis, her family once again had to flee fighting six weeks ago, walking at night through mountains filled with landmines to avoid being caught.

Now safely in Jadaa Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp, she is enjoying being able to go back to school after two years – but misses home.

“I left behind my toys. Everything. My school,” she says.

Even though the battle for nearby Mosul is reaching its endgame, without any means to support themselves and no home to return to, Ahlam’s family is likely to be stuck in the camp for the next several years.

Sadly, her story is far from unique. Around the world, 28 million children have been displaced from their homes thanks to conflict.

Today’s children risk becoming a lost generation, an extensive new report from Save the Children has found, with one in four “robbed of their childhood”.

Children of Mosul describe life under Islamic State

The children’s rights charity has created a global index ranking the countries where childhood is the least and most threatened.

At least 700 million children are unable to enjoy their youth thanks to the effects of conflict, child labour, early marriage and a lack of access to education and healthcare, according to the findings.

Around the world, eight million children die each year, the report found, and one in six are not getting an education.

Most of the countries ranked lowest on Save the Children’s index were in Sub-Saharan Africa, including Niger, Angola, Mali, the Central African Republic and Somalia.

Save the Children presents a collection of refugee children's stories of fleeing the Syrian conflict

“In 2015, the world made a promise that by 2030, all children would be in school, protected, and healthy, regardless of who they are, and where they live. Although this is an ambitious target, it’s within reach if governments invest in all children to guarantee they have the full childhood they deserve,” Kevin Watkins, Save the Children’s CEO, said on the report’s release on Thursday – International Children’s Day.

Iraq, where millions have been displaced by conflict over the last 15 years, ranks 123 of 172 countries.

More than one in five children under five has stunted growth, and one in five across the country is currently out of school.

“Violence is the key problem here, and it brings very serious consequences for children with it,” Aram Shakaram, Save the Children’s deputy country director for Iraq, told The Independent.

“The children we see in our day to day work show signs of severe trauma and psychological stress. As well as immediate life-saving assistance, these are the long-term effects we need to think about.

“The donor community must commit to long term support for these children, otherwise it will feed into future violence in this country.’

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