Punch Editorial Board
Without food and medical aid, while forced to flee war at home, life is becoming ever more hopeless for children. A new report – The State of the World’s Children 2017 – by the United Nations Children’s Fund paints a disturbing trend of attacks on children in armed conflicts around the world. From Nigeria’s blood-soaked North-East to the killing fields of Congo, and from Yemen to South Sudan, there is an escalation of sadistic crimes against children. No doubt, world leaders need to redouble their efforts to rein in inhuman acts against this defenceless group.
The report warned of a new pattern of attacks, condemning the “widespread and blatant disregard for international laws designed to protect the most vulnerable” as “a new normal.” This is unacceptable. It is a threat to civilised ethos, and it defies laid-down rules, with armed groups now bombing classrooms and playgrounds. Bandits rape children, abduct and recruit them as suicide bombers and child soldiers. Some regain their freedom, yet suffer further abuse in the hands of the security agents upon their release.
December 28 2017, 9:00am,
Combatants are flouting international law by using children as soldiers, suicide bombers and human shields, Unicef said in a report which warned against such brutality becoming the norm. Rape, abduction, forced marriage and slavery have become standard tactics during years of conflict in the Middle East and North Africa, the agency said.
The number of children recruited to fight in the regions’ conflicts more than doubled in the year to 2015 and has continued to rise as humanitarian conditions plunge, particularly in Yemen and Sudan. Children as young as ten have been recruited, sometimes forcefully and in other cases as a way out of poverty and malnutrition.
“Children are being targeted and exposed to attacks and brutal violence in their homes, schools and playgrounds,” Manuel Fontaine, Unicef’s director of emergency programmes, said. “As these attacks continue year after year, we cannot become numb. Such brutality cannot be the new normal.”