Dar es Salaam. Children in conflict zones around the world have come under attack at a shocking scale throughout the year, the United Nations Childrens' Fund (Unicef) warned on Tuesday, December 28.
It called on all parties to the conflicts to abide by international laws designed to protect the most vulnerable, especially the children and immediately end the targeting of civilian infrastructure, including schools and hospitals.
In media statement, Unicef said details of a new report showed that the number of the affected children rose at a shocking scale for 2017 due to ongoing conflicts around the world.
In Democratic Republic of Congo, Unicef said, 850,000 children were out of school, 350,000 suffered from acute malnutrition due to the destruction of 200 health centres and 400 schools.
In South Sudan, 2,300 of the children have been killed, 19,000 are recruited as young soldiers. In Somalia, 1,740 cases of child recruitment were reported in the first 10 months of 2017.
In Afghanistan, almost 700 children were killed in the first nine months of the year. In Yemen, at least 5,000 are dead or wounded, according to verified data, with actual numbers expected to be much higher.
More than 11 million need humanitarian assistance. Out of 1.8 million children suffering from malnutrition, 385,000 are severely malnourished and at risk of death if not urgently treated, said the UN agency.
Unicef Director of Emergency Programmes Manuel Fontaine said “Children are being targeted and exposed to attacks and brutal violence in their homes, schools and playgrounds. As these attacks continue year after year, we cannot become numb. Such brutality cannot be the new normal.”
In conflicts around the world, children have become targets, used as human shields, killed and recruited to fight. Rape, forced marriage, abduction and enslavement have become standard tactics in conflicts from Iraq, Syria and Yemen, to Nigeria, South Sudan and Myanmar.
Across all these countries, Unicef calls on States with influence over parties to conflict to use that influence to protect children with health, nutrition, and education and child protection services.