A total of 93,236 children have been killed or maimed in conflict in the past 10 years, says a report by Save the Children International, a global non-governmental organization (NGO).
Ms Inger Ashing, executive director of the NGO, said this in a statement on Friday in Abuja.
Ashing said the figures were released in the report under the title “Killed and maimed: a generation of rapes against children in conflict.”
He said the report revealed that 25 children, the equivalent of a classroom full of students, had been killed or injured on average every day.
He said many were victims of air strikes, bombings, landmines and other explosive weapons used in populated areas, where families had been torn apart and tens of thousands of children had been left dead or scarred for life.
“In the past year alone, more than a third of verified child victims were caused by explosive weapons and the number was dramatically higher in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.
“The report also reveals that in 2019, some 426 million children lived in an area affected by conflict, a slight increase from the previous year.
“Around 160 million children lived in a high-intensity conflict zone, also an increase compared to 2018.
“The impact of explosive weapons on children is complex, robbing families of their hope and ability to access vital services, and often profoundly altering the direction of a child’s life.”
Ashing said behind the stark figures are countless stories of child victims of war.
He expressed concern that many are the victims of people blatantly ignoring international laws and standards and governments turning a blind eye.
“However, several countries have made the conscious decision to continue selling weapons to the parties to the conflict, even when it was clear that they were using them against children. This cannot continue.
“This weekend, the richest and most powerful leaders in the world gather in Saudi Arabia for the G20 summit in Riyadh.
“Within a day’s journey, millions of vulnerable children in Yemen do not know where their next meal will come from or whether they will survive the next air strike or artillery barrage.
“This is an opportunity for world leaders to use their influence and voice to make the right decision and stop the war on children,” he said.
According to Ashing, even during the COVID-19 pandemic, when the focus should be on fighting the virus, warring parties continued to kill and maim children.
He said the UN called for a global ceasefire in July, backed by 170 countries., but since then 177 of the children have been killed and maimed in Yemen.
He noted that dozens of people were killed or seriously injured in Afghanistan, violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo had skyrocketed and children in Myanmar were frequent victims.
The NGO chief said that earlier this year, the Saudi-led coalition and the Emirates was removed from the UN’s “list of shame”, which denounced the perpetrators of grave violations against children.
He explained that the coalition was removed from the list, despite the fact that children in Yemen continue to be bombed almost daily.
“Never in the history of humanity have we been more aware of the violations of the rights of the child: attacks are verified, recruitment is documented and we see children starving on television while they are denied aid.
“We have the means to prevent children from being harmed, but we continue to see incredible violations, year after year. It’s like the world has stopped caring, ”Ashing said.
He said the report noted that, in 2019, the most dangerous countries for children in conflict were Syria, Somalia, Afghanistan, Yemen, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mali, the Central African Republic, Iraq, South Sudan and Sudan.
Ashing said the report revealed that more than three million children live in an area where violence has raged for 18 years or more.
He said the number of children recruited into the armed forces increased by 639 in 2018 to 7,845 in 2019.
He added that more than 3,100 children had been recruited in the Democratic Republic of the Congo alone; and more than 4,400 humanitarian organizations were denied access to children six times more than in 2018.
“To curb the disastrous impacts of explosive weapons on children, Save the Children urgently calls on states to stop the use of weapons most harmful to children.
“They should also limit the sale of such weapons if they could be used to commit or facilitate serious violations of international law, and hold those who do not respect international laws and norms to account,” he said.
According to her, Save the Children is also calling on states to support an Irish-led political statement aimed at curbing the use of explosive weapons in populated areas.
He said the organization was also urging governments to ensure that child protection was fully funded in humanitarian responses, including mental health support for children and their families. (YAYA)