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UNICEF: World 'has continued to fail' children

December 28, 2018

Children were not adequately protected from conflicts in 2018, according to UNICEF. The children's fund said thousands of boys and girls were directly victims of war violence this year.

Syrian children receive medical treatment
Image: picture alliance/AP Photo/Syrian Civil Defense White Helmets

The United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) on Friday said "much more needed to be done" to protect children in conflict zones over what it called a "shocking year-on-year trend."

The organization said the UN confirmed thousands of child victims of war in Afghanistan, Syria and Yemen while millions more were subjected to violations of human rights. In many conflict zones, children were attacked, killed, maimed, recruited to fight or used as human shield, UNICEF said.

"Children living in conflict zones around the world have continued to suffer through extreme levels of violence over the past 12 months, and the world has continued to fail them," Manuel Fontaine, head of UNICEF's emergency aid programs, said as part of a UNICEF statement

"For too long, parties to conflict have been committing atrocities with near-total impunity, and it is only getting worse. Much more can and must be done to protect and assist children," he said.

Around 5,000 children were killed or mutilated in Afghanistan in the first nine months of 2018 alone, according to UNICEF. 

Numerous schools and hospitals were attacked or abused for military purposes in countries like those surrounding the lake Chad basin, according to the children's fund. In northern Nigeria and Somalia, rape, forced marriage and kidnapping are often part of war tactics. In the DR Congo, where conflict has arisen ahead of historic elections, 4.2 million children are at risk of severe malnutrition, the organization said.

"Even as wars continue, we must never accept attacks against children. We must hold warring parties to their obligation to protect children. Otherwise, it is children, their families and their communities who will continue to suffer the devastating consequences, for now, and for years to come,” Fontaine said.

UNICEF was created by the UN General Assembly in 1946 to provide emergency food and healthcare to children in countries devastated by World War II. Its mandate was extended in 1950 to children in developing countries worldwide. 

dv/kms (dpa, epd)

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