Association for Defending Victims of Terrorism- At least 120,000 children killed or maimed by wars around the world across continents since 2005, an average of almost 20 a day
A staggering 315,000 grave violations against children in conflict were verified by the United Nations between 2005 and 2022, a stark illustration of the devastating impact of war and conflict on children.
As states, donors and the humanitarian community meet in Norway for the Oslo Conference on Protecting Children in Armed Conflict, UNICEF has reported that, since monitoring began in 2005, the UN has verified 315,000 grave violations committed by parties to conflict in more than 30 conflict situations across Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America.
- More than 120,000 children killed or maimed.
- At least 105,000 children recruited or used by armed forces or armed groups.
- More than 32,500 children abducted.
- More than 16,000 children subjected to sexual violence.
The UN has also verified more than 16,000 attacks on schools and hospitals, and more than 22,000 instances of denial of humanitarian access for children.
As these are just the cases that have been verified, the true toll is likely to be far higher.
Additionally, many millions more children have been displaced from their homes and communities, lost friends or family or been separated from parents or caregivers.
“Any war is ultimately a war on children,” said UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell. “Exposure to conflict has catastrophic, life-changing effects for children. While we know what must be done to protect children from war, the world is not doing enough. Year after year, the UN documents the visceral, tragic and all too predictable ways that children’s lives are torn apart. It is incumbent on all of us to ensure that children do not pay the price for the wars of adults, and to take the bold, concrete action required to improve the protection of some of the world’s most vulnerable children.”
shortfall of nearly $650 million in child protection funding is leaving nearly 18 million vulnerable children and caregivers living in the world’s worst humanitarian crises at risk of violence, exploitation and abuse, said Save the Children.
As world leaders gather for the Oslo Conference on Protecting Children in Armed Conflict, Save the Children with partners launched a report, “Unprotected: An Analysis of Funding for Child Protection in Armed Conflict”, showing that in many countries where war and violence persist funding is not keeping pace with the rising numbers of families and children at risk.
In 2022, around 22.4 million children and their caregivers in most need were targeted for child protection services requiring funding of nearly $795 million. However, governments only found the money for 19% of this, creating a funding vacuum of over $646 million, and leaving nearly 18 million boys, girls and caregivers without protection and assistance.
If this trend of underfunding is allowed to continue, the report predicts there will be a $1 billion shortfall for child protection in conflict zones by 2026.
This growing funding deficit comes as more and more children are living in areas of armed conflict. Save the Children’s annual estimates of children living in armed conflict calculated by the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO) based on conflict data from the Uppsala Data Program (UCDP) show that in 2022 about 468 million children – more than 1 out of 6 – were living in a conflict zone. This number has almost doubled since the mid-1990s.
There has also been a jump in the number of boys and girls living on the frontline in the world’s deadliest countries. Last year, 250 million children lived within 50 kms of a conflict zone in countries where more than 1,000 people died in battle within one year – up 12% from over 220 million children two years ago.
Africa remained the region with the highest total of children living in conflict zones – around 183 million. West and Central Africa is also the region with the highest number of children recruited by armed groups.
As in previous years, the Middle East continued to have the highest share of children living in conflict zones relative to the total child population – 39% of children in the region, or one in three. Save the Children is calling on world leaders, donors, members of the UN, and NGOs to transform this raised awareness into collective action and work together to prioritise child protection funding in humanitarian responses —and to support children impacted by conflict, including those who are recruited.
‘There is an urgent need to step up the protection of children from the horrors of war. I’m thankful for the commitments by states and organisations to better protect children in armed conflict’, said Norway’s Foreign Minister Anniken Huitfeldt.
‘Increasingly the places children live, learn and play are attacked and destroyed. With more than 100 armed conflicts in the world, the lives and futures of children are at stake. It is vital that states, international organisations and civil society come together to strengthen protection and support to children in armed conflict’, said Huitfeldt.
Around 30 states together with over 40 organisations and civil society recognized that the suffering of children affected by armed conflict is one of the most pressing political and humanitarian concerns today. They committed to making every effort to ensure the protection of children in armed conflict and safeguard our common future.
For Iraq, the numbers are staggering, with over 9,000 children killed or maimed (3,119 killed and 5,938 maimed) since 2008 to the end of 2022. Despite the considerable reduction on the number of reported cases in the last years, the overall number represents, on an average, more than 1 child killed every other day and one child maimed daily over the reported period.
Iran’s children have also become victims of war and terrorism and the lucrative business of brokering death and weapons. Tens of thousands of Iranian children were martyred or displaced during the war imposed by the Baathist regime in Iraq, the martyrdom of 74 students of Shahid Pirouz School in November 1983 was a small example of the huge number of student and child martyrs in this devastating war. On the other hand, more than 150 children have been victims of terrorism in Iran. ISIS’s terrorist attack on Shahcheragh Shrine in Shiraz in 1401 and the martyrdom of two children in this incident was the last act of terrorism in victimizing the children of Iran.