By Azeezat Adedigba
At least 550,000 are said to have died as a result armed conflict between 2013 and 2017 in Nigeria and nine other affected countries according to a new analysis.
Save the Children, a non-governmental organisation which conducted the analysis, also said an average of well over 100,000 die every year. The affected countries are Afghanistan, Yemen, South Sudan, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Syria, Iraq, Mali, Nigeria, and Somalia.
This was contained in a statement sent to PREMIUM TIMES Thursday night by Save the Children, to commemorate their 100 years anniversary.
The organisation also held an event in Abuja on Thursday to launch the ‘Stop the War on Children’ campaign in Nigeria.
In the statement, Save the Children said infants succumbed to indirect effects of conflict and war such as hunger, damaged infrastructure and hospitals, lack of access to health care and sanitation, and the denial of aid.
“They probably would not have died if they hadn’t been living in areas affected by conflict,” it said.
The total deaths from indirect effects jump from 550,000 to 870,000 when all children under the age of five are included.
In the statement, Helle Thorning-Schmidt, CEO of Save the Children International, said, “Our report shows that the way today’s wars are being fought is causing more suffering for children. Almost 1 in 5 children are living in areas impacted by conflict – more than at any time in the past two decades.
“The number of children being killed or maimed has more than tripled, and we are seeing an alarming increase in the use of aid as a weapon of war.
“It is shocking that in the 21st century we are going backward on principles and moral standards that are so simple – children and civilians should never be targeted.
“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.”
Meanwhile, speaking at the event, the head of advocacy and campaign, Save the Children, Amanuel Mamo, said the UN is doing its best to see that children’s rights are protected and that they realise their potentials in the society.
“Globally, millions of children are actually living in complex situations. Some people are campaigning and advocating for their protection. Most importantly those affected by Boko Haram and conflict disaster.
According to him, they are not only sponsoring children in those horrible situations but also when the child is not in school, when the child is suffering from pneumonia and many other diseases, such a child is under attack.
Similarly, the Save the Children acting director, Wilfred Okanda, said the organisation’s programme are based to ensure that children survive and lives are protected.
“Three years ago, we launched a campaign on protecting every last child and as we celebrate 100 years, more and more campaigns will be launched. The children affected by conflict are the ones who suffer the most, “Mr Okanda said.
He said Save the Children research across the world shows that one in every five children lives in conflict affected places and Nigeria is one of the countries affected.
“So, as we kick off the campaign today, and as we celebrate 100 years of our existence, we’ll like to call on all stakeholders to make sure that our international roles and activities are respected globally so that we can be able to protect the rights of children,” Mr Okanda said.
Meanwhile the current child ambassador of Save the Children, Purity Oriaifo said children in Nigeria are facing lots of challenges which has the probability of leading to their death before their fifth birthday.
“Children who suffer from physical and mental deficiencies are often victims of discriminating practices. Children living in rural areas are exposed to high risk of death due to poor sewage system, poor portable water and malnutrition which stunts their growth,” she said.
Ms Oriaifo, who is a student at the Government Secondary School, Gwagwalada, said Save the Children and its partners will ensure that the voice of children are heard globally.
“The voice of every last child should be heard all over the world,” she said.
The Save the Children Fund, commonly known as Save the Children, is an international non-governmental organization that promotes children’s rights, provides relief and helps support children in developing countries.
It was established in the United Kingdom in 1919 in order to improve the lives of children through better education, health care, and economic opportunities, as well as providing emergency aid in natural disasters, war, and other conflicts.
The Save the Children Fund was founded in London, England, on April 15, 1919 by Eglantyne Jebb and her sister Dorothy Buxton as an effort to alleviate starvation of children in Germany and Austria-Hungary during the Allied blockade of Germany of World War I, which continued after the Armistice.
The organisation promotes policy changes in order to gain more rights for young people especially by enforcing the UN Declaration of the Rights of the Child.