2014 one of worst for world’s chil­dren: UN

Lesotho Times - - International -

NEW YORK — The year 2014 has been one of the worst on record for the world’s chil­dren, the United Na­tions said on Mon­day in a re­port that chron­i­cled a litany of war, vi­o­lence, atroc­i­ties and dis­ease, mostly in the Mid­dle East and Africa.

Up to 15 mil­lion chil­dren are di­rectly en­tan­gled in vi­o­lent con­flicts in the Cen­tral African Repub­lic, Iraq, the Pales­tinian ter­ri­to­ries, South Su­dan, Syria and Ukraine, said the re­port by the United Na­tions Chil­dren’s Fund, or Unicef.

Glob­ally, the re­port said, an es­ti­mated 230 mil­lion chil­dren live in coun­tries and ar­eas torn by armed con­flicts.

“Chil­dren have been killed while study­ing in the class­room and while sleep­ing in their beds,” said An­thony Lake, the ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Unicef. “They have been or­phaned, kid­napped, tor­tured, re­cruited, raped and even sold as slaves.”

The re­port was ba­si­cally a sum­ma­tion of the well-doc­u­mented af­flic­tions that af­fected chil­dren in 2014. But taken in their en­tirety, they pre­sented what Unicef called a dev­as­tat­ing pic­ture.

“Never in re­cent mem­ory have so many chil­dren been sub­jected to such un­speak­able bru­tal­ity,” Mr. Lake said.

In the Cen­tral African Repub­lic, a chron­i­cally dys­func­tional coun­try bor­der­ing on an­ar­chy, 2.3 mil­lion chil­dren are af­fected, and up to 10 000 may have been re­cruited by armed groups as sol­diers, the re­port said. More than 430 chil­dren have been killed or wounded, three times as many as in 2013.

In Gaza, the re­port said, the 50day con­flict this sum­mer be­tween Is­raelis and Pales­tini­ans left 538 chil­dren dead, 3 370 wounded and 54,000 home­less.

The nearly four-year-old war in Syria, which spilled into Iraq this year with the as­cen­dance of the mil­i­tant group the Is­lamic State, was a lead­ing contributor of trauma to chil­dren, the re­port said, dis­rupt­ing the lives of more than 7.3 mil­lion in Syria and 2.7 mil­lion in Iraq.

In South Su­dan, the world’s youngest coun­try, which gained in­de­pen­dence in 2011, a calami­tous civil con­flict that erupted a year ago has brought se­vere hunger, home­less­ness and death. More than 750 000 chil­dren have been dis­placed in the coun­try, 320,000 oth­ers are refugees in neigh­bour­ing coun­tries and 235 000 un­der age 5 are suf- fer­ing “se­vere acute mal­nu­tri­tion,” the re­port said.

The year was wors­ened by the Ebola cri­sis in West Africa, which the re­port said had left thou­sands of chil­dren or­phaned and an esti- mated five mil­lion out of school.

The sheer num­ber of crises in 2014, the re­port said, meant that many had gar­nered lit­tle last­ing at­ten­tion or had been com­pletely over­looked.

“Pro­tracted crises in coun­tries like Afghanistan, the Demo­cratic Repub­lic of Congo, Nige­ria, Pak­istan, So­ma­lia, Su­dan and Ye­men,” it said, “con­tin­ued to claim even more young lives and fu­tures.” — NY Times.

While Ebola’s vic­tims in­cluded this Liberian girl, armed con­flicts around the world af­flicted up to 15 mil­lion chil­dren, a re­port said.

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