New York, Dec 9: The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) on Tuesday said that 2014 has been “devastating” for some 15 million children caught up in violent conflicts around the world, said a UN News Centre report.
As many as 15 million children are caught up in violent conflicts in the Central African Republic, Iraq, South Sudan, Syria, Ukraine and in the Occupied Palestinian territories – including those displaced in their own countries or living as refugees outside their homeland, said the UN report.
The Unicef Executive Director, Anthony Lake, in press statement said: “This has been a devastating year for millions of children.”
Lake further said: “Children have been killed while studying in the classroom and while sleeping in their beds; they have been orphaned, kidnapped, tortured, recruited, raped and even sold as slaves.”
“Never in recent memory have so many children been subjected to such unspeakable brutality,” the report said, adding that an estimated 230 million children live in countries and areas affected by armed conflicts.
The Unicef, however, said: “The sheer number of crises in 2014 meant that many were quickly forgotten or captured little attention.” It further added: “Protracted crises in countries like Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen, continued to claim even more young lives and futures.”
The UN agency further said that 2014 has also posed significant new threats to children’s health and well-being, most notably the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, which has left thousands of children orphaned and an estimated 5 million out of school.
In 2014, Unicef said children have been kidnapped from their schools or on their way to school, recruited or used by armed forces and groups. It also noted a rise in attacks on education and health facilities and use of schools for military purposes.
Unicef said it and its partners have worked together to provide life-saving assistance and other critical services like education and emotional support to help children growing up in some of the most dangerous places in the world.
In Central African Republic, a campaign is under way to get 662,000 children back to school as the security situation permits.
Nearly 68 million doses of the oral polio vaccine were delivered to countries in the Middle East to stem a polio outbreak in Iraq and Syria.
In South Sudan, more than 70,000 children were treated for severe malnutrition, and in Ebola-hit countries, work continues to combat the virus through support for community care centres and Ebola treatment Units.
(With Agency Inputs)