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2020: Can we Stop the War on Children?

21 February 2020, Action for Change

New analysis reveals the shocking impact war has on children

A new report from Save the Children reveals modern conflict is uniquely destructive to the lives of 415 million children who live in war zones. We ask the questions: What role is Australia playing in this? And can we help Stop the War on Children?

Our report shows that since 2010, the number of children living in conflict zones has increased by 34%. At the same time, the number of verified incidents of ‘grave violations’ against children have risen by 170%. Grave violations are the worst kind of crimes committed against children: when they are killed or maimed, recruited for armies, abducted, sexually abused, see their schools attacked, or have aid denied to them. At no other time since records began have these sorts of crimes been more common.

In 2020, our campaign to Stop the War on Children is calling on Australia to step-up for children. We need your help to do it. 

Children are now the deliberate targets of war

There were more than 1,800 attacks on schools or hospitals in 2019 – one every 5 hours, or over 5 per day – representing an increase of more than 30% in just two years. This is a chilling step-change in how war is being waged. This happens when parties in conflict ignore the rules of war, safe in the knowledge that they will not be held to account. 

In Yemen alone, it is estimated that more than 2,000 children have been killed or injured by air raids. Since 2015, a total of 1,776 of the country’s schools have been destroyed, damaged and rendered out of use. Save the Children’s own hospital was bombed. A single coalition air strike wiped out 40 children on a school bus

All the more shocking is that Australia is selling weapons systems to the very countries accused of these war crimes against children. In 2020, we will not rest until Australia introduces on ban on weapons sales to countries who commit atrocities against children in Yemen – you can help us win by signing our petition

Amir* 12, fled Iraq to a town in North East Syria following an injury sustained in an airstrike, which resulted in him losing his arm. 

“The day I got injured, I was with my cousin. All of a sudden, we were attacked by shelling. They took us to hospital. The thing that has scared me most during this conflict is my injury.” His mother Asma* added: “Amir* was bleeding for three hours. He bled from the moment they picked him up until he got to hospital.” 

Australian children trapped in hell

Syria stands out as one of the worst places to be a child on earth: 99% of children are living in areas ravaged by war. This includes the 47 Australian children of foreign fighters, most under five, who are trapped in the Al Hol displacement camp, where they face some of the most horrific conditions imaginable. 

The Australian children are suffering from pneumonia, severe malnutrition and the effects of trauma. Their families back in Australia are pleading for them to be brought to safety before the unthinkable happens. Save the Children is calling on the Australian Government to meet its obligations and repatriate the children and their mothers, before it’s too late. 

With the arrival of winter, the temperature has dropped below freezing, with at least one child suffering from frostbite. No child should grow up in these conditions, in fear for their life.

The time has come for Australia to take responsibility for these children and their mothers: if we do not, who will?

Girls and war

Our new report reveals the different experiences of boys and girls when war breaks out. Girls were far more likely to be raped, to be forced into child marriage or to fall victim to other forms of sexual abuse than boys—87% of all verified cases of sexual violence involved girls, while 1.5% were boys.

Naomi *, 8, is from North Kivu, in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). She was playing with friends one night when she was taken by 4 strange men who abducted and assaulted her. Naomi* says that she is often afraid of being alone, but she feels better when she is in school and surrounded by her friends.

Stop the War on Children: Now

Stop the War on Children 2020: Gender Matters is a sobering read, but one that should remind us of the urgency of our cause.

Australia has a role to play in stopping the war on children; whether it is the toddlers freezing through the night in Al Hol camp, or the Yemeni school-children who look to the sky in anticipation of another foreign-made bomb dropping. Join us today in the fight to help protect these innocent children.

Together we can make their lives better. 

*Name has been changed 

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