Attacks on children in war zones almost triple since 2010

Some 45 violations – including killings, maiming and sexual violence – carried out against youngsters every single day over last 10 years

Colin Drury
Monday 30 December 2019 11:24
Comments
Luceyn Kifretune, a nine-year-old Syrian girl who lost four of her family and had her face permanently scarred in a barrel-bomb attack
Luceyn Kifretune, a nine-year-old Syrian girl who lost four of her family and had her face permanently scarred in a barrel-bomb attack

Attacks on children forced to live in conflict zones have almost tripled over the last decade, the United Nations has said.

Some 170,000 violations against youngsters – including killing, maiming, sexual violence and child recruitment – have been verified since 2010, Unicef reports.

The figure amounts to the equivalent of 45 abuses every single day for 10 years.

But even that may be just the tip of the iceberg, it is said: many thousands more attacks are thought to have gone unreported.

“Conflicts around the world are lasting longer, causing more bloodshed and claiming more young lives,” Henrietta Fore, executive director of Unicef, said. “Attacks on children continue unabated as warring parties flout one of the most basic rules of war: the protection of children.”

In 2018, the last year for which full figures are available, the UN verified more than 24,000 violations – almost three times higher than the corresponding figure collated in 2010.

Children in Syria, Yemen and Afghanistan have been particularly at risk, Ms Fore added. But despicable attacks have also happened in Nigeria, where teenagers were used as suicide bombers, and in Myanmar where Muslim children in Rakhine State were reported to have been killed by government soldiers.

Airstrikes against schools and the use of youngsters as human shields has also added to the tally.

The shock figure comes as new analysis also revealed an estimated 6.9 million children across Europe and Asia are currently facing winter in temporary shelters, having been displaced by war.

That includes 2.5 million youngsters who have fled Syria and 300,000 who have left homes in eastern Ukraine, says Save The Children, which compiled the figure.

The charity identified 12 countries struggling with high numbers of these displaced youngsters where temperatures regularly hit freezing at this time of year.

Many such children, it said, are facing a fight for survival as they live in camps, squat in disused buildings or are housed in bare containers.

Rachael Cummings, director of humanitarian public health at the organisation, said: “Millions have escaped vicious conflict or turmoil in search of safety. Yet for some the bitter winter could be as dangerous as the threats they left behind.

“Last winter in a matter of weeks freezing temperatures and harsh conditions in Syria killed 15 children who had fled conflict. Sometimes canvas or plastic sheeting just millimetres thick, or crumbling walls of abandoned buildings, are all that separate shivering, exhausted children from the elements as temperatures plummet.”

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in