By Bertram Nwannekanma
A new report by Save the Children, an international non-governmental organisation that promotes children’s rights, has listed Nigeria among the 10 worst conflict-affected countries, where 100,000 kids died yearly as a result of armed conflicts between 2013 and 2017.
The report entitled ‘Stop the War on Children’ indicated that over 100,000 of these babies, who die every year on average would not have died if they hadn’t been living in areas affected by conflict.
Other countries listed alongside Nigeria where children were hardest hit by conflict in 2017 include Afghanistan, Yemen, South Sudan, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Syria, Iraq, Mali and Somalia.
According to the report, the infants succumbed to indirect effects of conflict and war such as hunger, damaged infrastructure and hospitals, a lack of access to healthcare and sanitation, and the denial of aid.
The number of indirect child deaths is published in the report launched ahead of the opening of the Munich Security Conference.
For the second year in a row, the report includes the most comprehensive collection of data on the number of children living in conflict-affected areas.
It reveals that more children, almost 20 per cent are living in areas affected by armed conflict than at any time in more than 20 years.
Another research by the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO), commissioned by Save the Children, also found that 420 million children were living in conflict-affected areas in 2017 (18 per cent of all children worldwide) up 30 million from the previous year.
According to these figures, grave violations rose worldwide from just under 10,000 in 2010 to more than 25,000 in 2017, the highest number on record.
Chief Executive Officer of Save the Children International, Helle Thorning-Schmidt, said the report showed that the way today’s wars are being fought is causing more suffering for children.
The charity included more than 20 recommendations for governments and other influential organisations to ensure children are protected during war and conflict.
They range from signing a Safe Schools Declaration and a minimum age of 18 for military recruitment to the avoidance of using explosive weapons in populated areas and tightening conditions for arms sales.