Image: initiative "syria, art and flight"
Millions of people growing up literally know nothing but war – the report "war on children 2020" also offers a gender-specific analysis for the first time
The situation for children in the conflicts of this world proves to be an absolute man-made catastrophe. Millions of adolescents become victims, and that in many respects. On the scenes of war, terror, expulsion, ethnic conflicts, along the lines of conflict between the major and regional powers, they are the most helpless and at the same time the ones who suffer the worst and most enduring circumstances.
And their situation is getting worse. An investigation by the organization "save the children" (the world’s largest independent children’s rights organization with 28 country affiliates) now provides a wealth of facts, names and jaw-dropping details. The recently published report entitled "war on children" (full report war on children) brings the victims out of anonymity, gives the horror faces. And provides depressing visual material. This includes millions of destroyed future prospects. In accordance with the un convention on the rights of the child, the age group studied includes young people up to the age of 18. Year of life a.
Everyday life in syria: a horror scenario
The middle east: a civil war has been raging in syria for years, forcing people to leave the country en masse. The events, the confrontation with brute force and dehumanization in their home country and on the run shape those who have fled and leave traces on each individual.
Everyday life, a horror scenario. Bombed-out houses, ransacked streets, children and young people wandering abandoned through the streets, hopelessly overcrowded refugee camps. And a lot of traumas, which do not really play a role in the public perception, because they are invisible.
The latest report from "save the children" offers the most comprehensive collection of data on children in war and conflict to date. Since 2010, the total number of children living in conflict zones has increased by 34 percent. In the same period, the number of confirmed serious crimes against children in these areas has increased by 170 percent. The number of children at risk of sexual violence in conflict is shocking: 80 million, almost the population of germany.
Childhood destroyed by the millions
In 2018, nearly 18 percent of all children worldwide lived in a conflict zone, in numbers: 415 million children. More than one third of them are "high conflict intensity" exposed. From "high conflict intensity" the report speaks of a "conflict situation" if more than 1,000 people are killed in an area in a year as a result of fighting or its consequences. In 19 out of 20 statistically recorded conflict situations in the reference year there were 12.125 confirmed cases of children being killed or silenced. 44 percent of these traps were boys and 17 percent were girls. For the remaining traps, the gender is not documented. The actual numbers are believed to be much higher.
On the african continent, the absolute number of children affected is the highest at 170 million. The "conflict zones" however, conflict zones extend across the globe, from mexico and colombia to africa, india and the philippines, not forgetting yemen and ukraine in recent times. In the middle east, almost one in three children lives in one of these conflict zones. Afghanistan was also an absolute terror for children in 2018.
The war on children report also points out that schools and hospitals are being attacked more and more frequently. The number of attacks on schools and hospitals worldwide rose to 1892 reported cases, plus an estimated number of unreported cases.
"Nothing but war"
The ten most dangerous countries for children living in conflict remained the same in 2018 as in 2017. They are: afghanistan, syria, iraq, yemen, somalia, sudsudan, central african republic, democratic republic of congo, nigeria, and mali. The situation in syria in the year under review (2018) is particularly highlighted. There was a particularly high number of serious crimes against adolescents of both sexes there. The un reported in december 2018 that in syria, after eight years of armed struggle, four million children – half of all children in the country – literally know nothing but war.
Afghanistan, which has been mentioned several times, is the country where the most children were killed and silenced in 2018. The majority of children in somalia are affected by systematic sexual violence. Nigeria has highest number of children recruited by armed groups.
Sexual violence, silencing, forced recruitment
The report, which has now been published, is the first to examine the impact of wars according to gender-specific criteria. For example, girls are victims of sexual violence in nine out of ten cases; boys are more likely to be seriously injured or killed in direct acts of war or recruited by armed groups. Many of these children are abducted, abused as child soldiers, used as human shields, sexually exploited, forced to transport explosives or used as suicide bombers.
The report’s key findings at a glance:
- Nine out of ten child victims of sexual violence are girls
- Girls are more likely to be seriously injured or killed by explosives attacks
- Boys are more likely to be silenced or killed, kidnapped, or recruited by armed groups
- Boys are more likely to be seriously injured or killed in direct acts of war.
Physical and psychological consequences
Among the survivors, the physical and psychological consequences of the torment suffered are considerable and have not been fully investigated for a long time. The report mentions, among other things, shame, loss of self-confidence, sleep disturbances, feelings of powerlessness, confusion and suicidal thoughts. However, the consequences also include other impairments that can last a lifetime. Doctors and physiologists speak of impaired brain functions, which affects memory, learning, and stress processing.
Many children who were able to flee crisis areas alone or with family members still see themselves as damaged and worthless years later, suffering from physical tension, aggression, slowing down, experiencing emotional or physical numbness. The doctor birgit kracke from "refugee trauma help" draws a conclusion, she says: "children who have survived war and flight are (…) in an exceptional situation, which challenges them massively and often overtaxes them, and in any case unsettles and often greatly frightens them."
Resumee: the report under the motto "war on children" gives a face to the horror. It contains chilling evidence of mass childhood experiences of powerlessness, loss, death, silencing, abuse, and meaninglessness. It is our world in which this happens. Millions of people on europe’s doorstep.