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Report: Armed Conflicts Kill More than 100,000 Babies Annually

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AFP/LOIC VENANCE
EDWIN MORA

An estimated 274 babies are killed each day on average in just ten countries located in the Middle East and Africa where children are believed to be most affected by armed conflict, the non-governmental organization (NGO) Save the Children revealed in a report on Friday.

In total, armed conflicts in the ten countries most affected by war — Afghanistan, Yemen, South Sudan, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Syria, Iraq, Mali, Nigeria — killed 550,000 babies between 2013 and 2017, the report, titled  Stop the War on Children: Protecting Children in 21st Century Conflict, found.

When you account for all children under five, the average jumps to about 478 killed each day, or about 174,000 per year, in those ten countries.

The research, carried out by the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO) on behalf of Save the Children, explained:

In the last five years alone more than 550,000 infants have died due to the reverberating impact of conflict. The total for children under five is 870,000. These estimates are imperfect – they are indicative and may be highly conservative. However, they suggest that every year in just ten conflict-affected countries at least 100,000 infants die who in the absence of conflict would survive.

Researchers determined that the children die “as a result of indirect effects of conflict – including malnutrition, disease and the breakdown of healthcare, water, and sanitation.”

The report revealed that the overall the number of “grave violations” against children more than doubled from 10,000 in 2010 to the highest figure ever recorded at over 25,000.

U.N. officials have identified six grave violations against children in situations of armed conflict, including “killing and maiming of children, recruitment and use of children as soldiers, sexual violence against children, abduction of children attacks on schools and hospitals, [and] denial of humanitarian access,” the NGO noted.

“There were 10,677 UN-verified reports of children being killed or maimed [alone] in 2017 – a rise of nearly 6% from the year before,” the report added.

Carolyn Miles, the president of Save the Children, acknowledged that conflict kills children every day, in a statement, adding:

Our report shows that a record number of children are being affected by conflict and that the way today’s wars are fought is causing, even more, suffering for children.

Our analysis clearly shows the situation is getting worse for children and the world is allowing this travesty to happen. Every day, children come under attack because armed groups and military forces disregard international laws and treaties. From the use of chemical weapons to rape as a weapon of war, war crimes are being committed with impunity.

The NGO found that more children are living in areas affected by armed conflict and war than during any other time in more than 20 years.

Researchers noted that 420 million children — nearly one in every five worldwide — were living in conflict-ridden areas in 2017, marking an increase of 30 million from the previous year.

The report defined “conflict zones” or “conflict-affected areas” as a territory within about 30 miles “of where one or more conflict events took place in a given year, within the borders of a country.”

Save the Children made several recommendations addressed to governments and armed groups to ensure the protection of children, urging them to commit themselves not to recruit fighters under 18 years of age and to avoid the use of explosive weapons in populated areas.

Researchers noted:

The overall number of verified cases of forced recruitment and use of children in conflict increased by 3% from 2016 to 2017, with more than 8,000 girls and boys reported as having been recruited into the ranks of non state armed groups or national armed and state-affiliated forces

Furthermore, the report calls for the formation of an independent body to investigate and analyze all violations against children and hold perpetrators accountable.

“When the rules of war are broken, the international community must be clear that this will not be tolerated and hold perpetrators to account,” the NGO’s president proclaimed. “And for the children whose lives are wrecked by conflict, we must do all we can to protect them from further harm and help rebuild their futures.”

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