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UNICEF hightlights children in warzones

June 30, 2015

One in ten of the world's children live in regions of war and conflict, according to UNICEF. It says long-term aid, especially education, can help whole generations to overcome the assumption that violence is normal.

Bürgerkrieg und Hungersnot im Südsudan
Image: Nichole Sobecki/AFP/Getty Images

The UNICEF report entitled "Children between the Frontlines" and unveiled in Berlin on Tuesday said that 230 million children were subjected last year to severe human rights violations in 23 conflict regions around the world.

The trauma was especially severe in Syria, Iraq, South Sudan and the Central African Republic, it said.

Children were also exposed to extreme violence in the Palestinian areas, Libya and Yemen. Hardship was considered prevalent for children in Afghanistan, Somalia and Sudan, too.

UNICEF documented cases of children being killed, injured and kidnapped, suffering sexual abuse or even being forcibly recruited as child soldiers.

Atrocities to gain attention

UNICEF accused two jihadi groups, "Islamic State" in Iraq and Syria and Boko Haram in Nigeria, of deliberately violating humanitarian conventions to gain attention worldwide.

Hospitals and schools had increasingly become targets, UNICEF concluded.

Afghanistan Kind Soldat US Armee
Afghan child overshadowed by soldierImage: AP

Provision of education even in conflict regions was important because it gave children a worthy feeling of normality and countered the trend of violence sowing the seeds of future conflict.

From New York, UNICEF's director for emergency programs Ted Chaiban said the world was experiencing the "worst phase of conflict" since the Second World War. Long-term perspectives for affected children must be created, he said.

Education essential, even in warzones

In Berlin, German Development Minister Gerd Müller said that education offered the "adults of tomorrow" ways to make the transition to peace.

"Children are our greatest treasure and they are in great danger and need in our world," Müller said.

In 2014, the German ministry contributed some 150 million euros via UNICEF to projects in conflict regions and warzones.

The chairman of UNICEF's German branch, Jürgen Heraeus, said it was apparently easier to raise donations for natural disasters than long-term children's protection.

"If we don't manage to offer this generation education, then they will drift off," he said.

ipj/msh (epd, AFP)