Protecting our most vulnerable

Year after year conflicts around the globe result in the deaths, injuries or misplacement of our most vulnerable. The United Nations (UN) says more than 400 million children live in countries where there is war or other violent conflicts.

They are often forced to flee their homes, and many are displaced for extended periods, or never return home while some are orphaned or separated from their loved loves.

 

A week after the first ever World Children’s Day hosted by Pope Francis, we observe International Day of Innocent Children Victims of Aggression. The United Nations-sponsored event is held annually on June 4 to highlight the disastrous situation faced by millions of children in war zones.

 

Millions of children go without food, clean water, shelter and protection each day.

 

In Ukraine, an average of at least two children have been killed or injured every day since Russia’s invasion began more than two years ago while it’s estimated about 14,000 children have died and 12,000 injured in Gaza since the Israeli offensive began in October.

 

Children caught up in conflict are often deprived of food, protection, education, and their childhood. Many families who have fled their homes have no way of earning an income, so cannot access food, clean water, or health care. Without assistance, children are more likely to face hunger, sickness and disease.

 

The UN says there are ‘Six Grave Violations against children during armed conflict. Killing and maiming of children; Recruitment or use of children as soldiers; Sexual violence against children; Abduction of children; Attacks against schools or hospitals; and Denial of humanitarian access for children.

 

Between 2005 and 2022, the UN confirmed 315,000 grave violations against children in conflict.

 

 

Exposure to violence, and constant fear and uncertainty caused by war and conflict, can have negative, long-term impacts on children including their psychological, emotional, and social development.

 

Poor development in these areas can affect a child’s ability to learn and, in turn, their job prospects in the future. This means, for a child living in poverty, conflict will perpetuate the cycle of disadvantage in their family.

 

For more details about International Day of Innocent Children Victims of Aggression go to: www.un.org/en/observances/child-victim-day

 

Feature image: Courtesy of Unicef. Second image courtesy of Freepik.

 

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