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One in six children live in war zones

Nicole Goebel
February 15, 2018

Being a child in Syria, Afghanistan or Somalia means living in one of the most dangerous countries in the world for kids, Save the Children has reported. Attacks on children in schools and hospitals are becoming normal.

Child soldier looking through rifle trigger guard
Image: Getty Images/AFP/S. Glinski

According to a report published Thursday by global charity Save the Children, more than 357 million children live in war and conflict zones, an increase of roughly 75 percent from the early 1990s.

Around half of those affected, some 165 million children, live in "high-intensity" conflicts. Youngsters in the Middle East are most likely to live in an area classed as a war-zone, with two in five children living within 50 kilometers (31 miles) of a "conflict event." Africa was ranked as second-most dangerous region.

Read more: HRW: Iran recruiting Afghan children to fight in Syria

With regard to individual countries, Syria, Afghanistan and Somalia topped the list of the most dangerous countries for children. Other hotspots include Myanmar, Bangladesh, Iraq and Yemen.

There has been a marked increase in the killing and maiming of children. Since 2010, the number of UN-verified cases of has gone up by almost 300 percent.

Infografik Karte der gefährlichsten Gebiete für Kinder in Kriegszonen ENG

Increased urbanization key factor

The report blames several factors for the overall increase. It says conflicts today tend to be protracted and are often fought in densely populated areas, with "attacks on what should, by any law or civilized standard, be safe places for children — such as schools and hospitals — also becoming a new normal in conflicts," said Save the Children CEO Helle Thorning-Schmidt.

Save the Children also says that "increasingly brutal tactics are being utilized" abusing children as suicide bombers and targeting kids in schools and hospitals as well as using so-called indiscriminate weapons like barrel bombs and cluster munitions.

Read more: UNICEF: 'Child soldiers want to continue education'

Apart from the conflicts themselves, children are affected by increasing displacement, with more than 65 million people around the world without a permanent home.

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