Published: Sat, December 30, 2017
Health Care | By Oscar Goodwin

Scale of attacks on children in 2017 'shocking'

Scale of attacks on children in 2017 'shocking'

A new UNICEF report says 2017 has been a horrific year for children in conflict zones, with thousands killed and scores more injured, displaced, recruited to fight, or made victims of sexual violence.

In Iraq and Syria children have reportedly been used as human shields, trapped under siege and targeted by snipers, while in Afghanistan almost 700 children were killed in fighting in the first nine months of the year, the Guardian quoted the Unicef statement as saying.

The US backed Saudi led military blockade and bombing has caused a catastrophic humanitarian crisis in Yemen, with 11 million children in need of humanitarian assistance. In Iraq and Syria, children have reportedly been used as human shields, maimed and killed, or trapped in besieged areas under intense bombardment as fighting between Syrian rebel forces and forces loyal to to President Bashar al-Assad entered its sixth year.

"Children are being targeted and exposed to attacks and brutal violence in their homes, schools and playgrounds", Mr Fontaine said.

"It's something that we can not allow to become the new normal", Morley added. "Such brutality can not be the new normal".

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- In Afghanistan, nearly 700 children were killed in the first 9 months of the year.

In the Central African Republic, the increasing violence saw children being killed, raped, abducted and recruited by armed groups.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo's Kasai region, violence has driven 850,000 children from their homes and an estimated 350,000 children have suffered from severe acute malnutrition.

19,000 - Children recruited as soldiers in South Sudan, where 2,300 kids have been killed since 2013.

In Somalia, almost 1,800 children were recruited to fight in the first 10 months of the year.

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Furthermore, millions of children also bore the brunt of diseases spread as a result of medical shortages caused by fighting, the report said, adding that children also suffered from malnutrition and trauma when access to food, water, and sanitation, and health services was impeded by constant hostilities.

The assessment is from UNICEF, which promotes the rights and wellbeing of children around the world, working in 190 countries and territories.

2017 has been a "nightmare year" for children caught in the crosshairs of conflict, the UN's agency for children has said.

The agency has also called on states with influence over non-state parties in conflict to use that influence to protect children.

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