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Save the Children’s latest report, ‘Stop the War on Children’

Almost one fifth of children worldwide are now living in areas affected by armed conflict, finds Save the Children, with children in conflict more likely to be killed or maimed, recruited, abducted, sexually abused, see their schools attacked, or have aid denied to them, than at any other time. Save The Children’s latest report calls on all leaders to stop the war on children.

Save the Children highlight that children in conflict today are are suffering from a lack of compliance with their rights, with armed actors, often including government forces, committing violations against children. These violations are often being met by, “at best, international indifference and, at worst, complicity”.

According to Save, three of the key dimensions of the crisis faced by children in conflict today include:

• States and armed non-state actors failing to uphold standards in their own conduct or to insist on this from their allies and from others over whom they have influence;
• Governments taking too little action to hold perpetrators of violations to account for their crimes;
• Not enough is invested in practical action on the ground to protect children in conflict and to support their recovery.

Children suffer in conflict in three broad ways:

  • They may be deliberately targeted.  The commission of atrocities against children is an exceptionally powerful way of terrorising a population and, hence, often a preferred tactic for armed forces and groups in many of today’s conflicts. Children are also often targeted because they may be easily manipulated and exploited, for instance, as soldiers or suicide bombers.
  • Children suffer as a result of indiscriminate or disproportionate military action. For example, they may be killed or injured by landmines or the use of explosive weapons with wide-area effect in populated areas.
  • Children suffer on a huge scale from the indirect consequences of conflict. These include displacement; the breakdown of markets and essential public services, such as healthcare, water and sanitation; and pervasive insecurity. While indirect effects and direct violations are both part of the same continuum of harm inflicted on children by modern conflict, these indirect consequences of conflict affect and kill many more children.

Based on the principle that all children have fundamental rights, Save sets out ten clear and incontrovertible goals as part of their ‘Charter to Stop the War in Children’:

• All children are protected against killing and maiming;
• Schools and health centres are treated as zones of peace and protection;
• Every child is protected from rape and sexual violence;
• No child is recruited into armed forces or groups;
• All children in conflict are safe from abduction, detention and displacement;
• No child is denied access to humanitarian aid in conflict;
• Violations of the rights of children in conflict are rigorously monitored, reported and acted upon;
• Those committing, overseeing and ordering violations against children in conflict are brought to justice and held accountable for their actions;
• Every child harmed or affected by conflict receives practical help and support to cope, recover and rebuild their lives;
• All children affected by conflict, including refugees and those internally displaced, have access to a good-quality education

Save the Children also calls on leaders and governments to:

  • uphold standards of conduct in conflict;
  • hold perpetrators to account;
  • and invest in helping children recover from the physical and psychological wounds of war

Included among the recommendations is a call for support for progress on a political declaration to avoid the use of explosive weapons in populated areas. The report used AOAV data to underline the impact explosive weapons have on civilians, including children, and drew attention to the progress towards such a political commitment with states increasingly recognising the harm caused by the use of explosive weapons in populated areas.

The full list of recommendations are included in the link to the full report, which can be found here.