The impact of war on children in Africa

Children sitting on a school window Children sitting on a school window Photo by Hanna Morris on Unsplash

05 January 2020

Almost 44,000 people across Africa were reported as missing this year and out of the said number, 45% were children: what happened to them? 

Covid-19 has only contributed to worsening the condition of the youngest part of the african population affected by the war: the children. The list of threats that can potentially and practically affect kids is long; one of the most common consequences is that once children find themselves alone, they are subjected to the deprivation of care and protection, resulting in greater possibility  of being trapped in a cycle of sexual abuse, work-related physical and mental exploitation, violence and alienation from family.  

The list is still long, indeed children are not only affected directly , but also indirectly,as damage can occur in the support network intended for them; essential services such as medical care, psychological support and education have in many cases become the stage for heinous crimes . “School buildings are directly targeted , accidentally  damaged, or used for military purposes. Weapons and ammunition are occasionally stored or abandoned near or in schools. Parties to armed conflict also specifically come to schools to recruit children and use them in hostilities, and children are sometimes raped or subjected to other forms of sexual violence in or around schools” saysValery Mbaoh Nana , Deputy Head of ICRC (Deputy Head of the International Committee of the Red Cross) Delegation to the African Union (AU), during the 965th Virtual meeting of the AU Peace and Security Council’s open session on children in situations of armed conflict in Africa.

The most painful truth however, is that all this evil could easily be avoided if only States and parties to armed conflict respected humanitarian boundaries, as required by international humanitarian law. In no case or circumstance should kids ever have to pay for the greed and willingness to overrule one another. 

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Author: Benedetta Spizzichino; Editor: Eleonora Gonnelli

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