Unicef: Children under attack at ‘shocking scale’
NEW YORK: Children living in the world’s conflict zones have come under attack at a “shocking scale” this year, United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) said yesterday.
Attackers have “blatantly” disregarded international laws designed to protect the most vulnerable, the organisation said in a statement.
“Children are being targeted and exposed to attacks and brutal violence in their homes, schools and playgrounds,” Unicef’s director of emergency programmes Manuel Fontaine said.
The world must not become numb to these attacks, he said, adding “such brutality cannot be the new normal”.
Children have become frontline targets in conflicts around the world, used as human shields, killed, maimed and recruited to fight.
Rape, forced marriage, abduction and enslavement have become standard tactics in conflicts from Syria and Yemen to Nigeria and Myanmar, Unicef said.
Millions more children become indirect casualties 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.
The statement cited significant statistics including that in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Kasai region, where violence has driven 850,000 children from their homes and an estimated 350,000 children have suffered from severe acute malnutrition.
In Yemen, nearly 1,000 days of fighting left at least 5,000 children dead or injured, according to verified data, with actual numbers expected to be much higher.
More than 11 million children need humanitarian assistance. – dpa