Children Paying ‘’the highest price’’ in Ongoing Nationwide Crises

Children play in the destroyed rebel-held town of Douma, near Damascus. Children play in the destroyed rebel-held town of Douma, near Damascus. © AFP

February 2018
The violence in the Middle East and North Africa has had devastating consequences on the area’s children, according to UNICEF Regional Director.

Known as “a dark month’’ by Geert Cappelaere, January alone has claimed the lives of at least 83 children, in countries including Iraq, Libya, Palestine, Syria, and Yemen. Children have died from ongoing violence, suicide bombing attacks, or by freezing to death while attempting to escape to freedom.

In Syria, the number of child casualties has only increased through the eight-year-long conflict. At least 59 children have been killed in the past four weeks due to violence in East Ghouta, Damascus, Idlib and Afri, according to UN News Centre.

Those children who have escaped death have still had to face terrible hardships, including violence, homelessness, separation from family, illness, and lack of access to sanitary water and food and medical help. According to UNICEF, 1 in 4 children in the regions of North Africa and the Middle East live in poverty.

Another major concern for the conflict-impacted children comes from their lack of education. More than 13 million children have been left unable to attend school, most of which are occupied by soldiers or displaced civilians, heavily damaged, or even burned to the ground, according to a 2015 report by UNICEF. Since then, the estimate has only increased.The result is an even greater decrease in opportunities for a better life for the children in the region.

UNICEF has since called for an end to the violence. On January 30, the organization appealed for $3.6 billion, the largest amount in history. The contribution will help the lives of over 27 million children in the Middle East and North Africa region.

Until then, the struggle continues. “Children may have been silenced. But their voices will continue to be heard,’’ Cappelaere said. ‘’Their message is our message: The protection of children is paramount under all circumstances, in line with the law of war.’’


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