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Displaced Iraqi children queue up outside a school funded by UNICEF Displaced Iraqi children queue up outside a school funded by UNICEF  (AFP or licensors)

UNICEF: Children under attack at shocking scale in conflicts around the world

No safe place for children. They have been used as human shields, killed, mutilated and recruited to fight.

According to UNICEF, Children in conflict zones around the world have come under attack at a shocking scale throughout the year but the warring parties have ignored international laws to protect the most vulnerable.

“As these attacks continue year after year, we cannot become numb. Such brutality cannot be the new normal”, said Manuel Fontaine, UNICEF Director of Emergency Programmes. 

The current report highlights several conflict zones where children suffered during the year. They are:

- In Afghanistan, almost 700 children were killed in the first 9 months of the year.
- In the Central African Republic, after months of renewed fighting, a dramatic increase in violence saw children being killed, raped, abducted and recruited by armed groups.
- In the Kasai region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, violence has driven 850,000 children from their homes, while more than 200 health centres and 400 schools were attacked. An estimated 350,000 children have suffered from severe acute malnutrition.
- In northeast Nigeria and Cameroon, Boko Haram has forced at least 135 children to act as suicide bombers, almost five times the number in 2016.
- In Iraq and Syria, children have reportedly been used as human shields, trapped under siege, targeted by snipers and lived through intense bombardment and violence.
- In Myanmar, Rohingya children suffered and witnessed shocking and widespread violence as they were attacked and driven from their homes in Rakhine state; while children in remote border areas of Kachin, Shan, and Kayin states continued to suffer the consequences of ongoing tensions between the Myanmar Armed Forces and various ethnic armed groups.
- In South Sudan, where conflict and a collapsing economy led to a famine declaration in parts of the country, more than 19,000 children have been recruited into armed forces and armed groups, and over 2,300 children have been killed or injured since the conflict first erupted in December 2013.
- In Somalia, 1,740 cases of child recruitment were reported in the first 10 months of 2017.
- In Yemen, nearly 1,000 days of fighting left at least 5,000 children dead or injured, according to verified data, with actual numbers expected to be much higher. More than 11 million children need humanitarian assistance. Out of 1.8 million children suffering from malnutrition, 385,000 are severely malnourished and at risk of death if not urgently treated.
- In eastern Ukraine, 220,000 children lived under constant threat of mines and other explosive remnants of war due to the 500 kilometer ‘contact line’ – the strip of land where fighting is most severe – becoming one of the most mine-contaminated places on earth.

28 December 2017, 14:01