Man carries child on Gaza beach after Navy shelling.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
This past year has been a “devastating” year for millions of children worldwide, the United Nations children’s agency UNICEF said this week.
The organization released figures revealing that as many as 15 million children are caught up in violent conflicts in Syria, the Palestinian territories, Iraq, South Sudan, Central African Republic and Ukraine.
Globally, an estimated 230 million children live in countries and areas affected by conflicts, UNICEF reported.
In 2014, the organization revealed, hundreds of children were kidnapped from their schools or on their way to school, tens of thousands were recruited or used by armed forces and groups, while attacks on education and health facilities and the use of schools for military purposes have increased in many regions.
“This year nightmares came true for too many children who were exposed to severe, brutal and ruthless violence,” said Jonny Cline, CEO of UNICEF Israel.
“The world in 2014 has become less safe for children.
Humanity’s mission is to ensure that it will not raise a lost generation of children whose entire life framework collapsed and they will turn into violent and scared adults.
Harming children is an injury to the future of humanity and we as Israelis must remember that,” he said.
In Gaza, 54,000 children were left homeless as a result of Operation Protective Edge in the summer. According to the UN, the conflict also saw 538 children killed and more than 3,370 injured.
Syria was ranked as the most dangerous country for children, with more than 7.3 million youngsters affected by the conflict, including 1.7 million child refugees. The United Nations verified at least 35 attacks on schools in the first nine months of the year, which killed 105 children and injured nearly 300 others.
In Iraq, an estimated 2.7 million children were affected by conflict, with at least 700 children believed to have been maimed, killed or executed this past year. Due to the rise of Islamic State this year and internal conflicts in the country, children have been victims of, witnesses to and even perpetrators of increasingly brutal and extreme violence, according the UN organization.
The past year was a difficult one also for children in Ukraine, where the organization revealed that the number of internally displaced children is estimated at 128,000.
At least 36 children were killed and more than 100 were injured in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions between mid-April and the end of October.
“Children have been killed while studying in the classroom and while sleeping in their beds; they have been orphaned, kidnapped, tortured tortured, recruited, raped and even sold as slaves. Never in recent memory have so many children been subjected to such unspeakable brutality,” said UNICEF executive director Anthony Lake.
“It is sadly ironic that in this, the 25th anniversary year of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, when we have been able to celebrate so much progress for children globally, the rights of so many millions of other children have been so brutally violated,” he said.
Lake called on the global community to take action and to do more to “make 2015 a much better year for every child.”