According to Unicef 2014 has been the worst year for millions of children across the world. With growing conflicts arising across the globe innocent children have been forcibly exposed to violence, kidnapped or targeted and forced in to warring groups. The vicious murder of over 100 school children in Pakistan last week only reflects the state of 230 million children currently living in countries and areas affected by armed conflict.
"Children have been killed while studying in the classroom and while sleeping in their beds; they have been orphaned, kidnapped, tortured, recruited, raped and even sold as slaves. Never in recent memory have so many children been subjected to such unspeakable brutality," said Anthony Lake, UNICEF Executive Director.
The UN children's agency has suggested that the UK government should be at the forefront in efforts to protect children from this global 'epidemic of violence.' Yes the UK government should instigate change but with the New Year coming around the global resolution of 2015 should be to end the silence we have taken on this hideous reality. It seems the world has accepted this truth as an inevitable outcome of global conflict. If the governments don't take action it thought that some 345 children could die from violence each day.
The global statistics for 2014 paint a very grim picture: In Gaza, 54,000 children were left homeless during a 50 day conflict over the summer, with 538 killed and more than 3,370 injured. In Syria 7.3 million children were affected by conflict. In the first 9 months of the year 35 attacks on schools took place which saw 105 children killed. In Iraq it is thought that at least 700 children were believed to be maimed, killed or even executed in this year alone. In the Central African Republic, 10,000 children are thought to be recruited by armed groups, and more that 430 children have been killed in the last year.
Children are not just victims of violence, but they have also been denied basic education and healthcare, In South Sudan an estimated 235,000 children under five are suffering from acute malnutrition. The Ebola outbreak in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia has left thousands of children orphaned and an estimated 5 million out of school.
"This epidemic of violence against children feeds off silence. It grows when we soundlessly accept that this is just the way things are. Every five minutes, somewhere across the globe, a family loses a son or daughter to violence. This is intolerable-it must stop," said Baroness Doreen Lawrence, a long term campaigner for justice in the UK.
It's thought that governments are currently negotiating new global targets as the current Millennium Development goals are set to expire in 2015. Unicef UK are calling for new targets that will end violence against children everywhere. It's not just the immediate violence that poses the greatest threat to these children. According to reports, A third of children who are victims of violence are likely to develop long-lasting symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder.
"Its 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. Violence and harm do more than harm individual children-they undermine the strength of societies. The world can and must do more to make 2015 a much better year for every child. For every child who grows up strong, safe, healthy and educated is a child who can go on to contribute to her own, her family's, her community's, her nation's and, indeed, to our common future," Said Lake.
These children will be our future but if they are raised in conflict and violence, our future will be very bleak indeed. So as we countdown the end of 2014 leaders should think long and hard about their resolutions for 2015. The doctors, teachers, lawyers and great minds of tomorrow are being crushed under the weight of political unrest and violence. If we don't act now then their future, and indeed our future will be bleak indeed. So for all of us our first resolution should be to protect our greatest investment; the children of the world.