The world, it seems, has turned blind to the tens and thousands of children caught in wars and conflicts across the globe
By: Ishfaq Ahmad Chopan
Often seen as synonymous with innocence- childhood is that cherished and beloved period of one’s life which lays the foundations for the rest of the stages to come and pass by. It is characterized by picking up habits, constructing a system of meanings and differentiations and also the capacity to distinguish and draw comparisons.
It is the most cherish period of one’s life full of love, innocence, unaware of many nuances of life and above all childhood is the period of life in which we sow the seeds of an everlasting appetite for learning and acquiring knowledge of all sorts. A peaceful childhood is indeed a guarantee for a prosperous adulthood.
Such is the nostalgia of this period of life that people seldom forget the vast independence of though and the purity of soul that one enjoys during childhood. Infact, if given a chance, nearly all people would want to be transported back to their childhood in a time-travel machine or so. But, as the reality unfolds, childhood is the period which flies not just swiftly but also irreversibly without even a notice.
It is the fundamental duty of parents, peers, guardians and the society at large to ensure, as much as they can, proper upbringing as well as quality education for children.
However as per several studies put forth by the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund, as well as other such organization working for children across the globe, world has become a dangerous place-particularly for children. Children, now, are exposed to wars-brutal and large scale as well as conflicts, in several countries and states. Unfortunate as it is, children, who otherwise are seen as assets for future-in fact they are the future- are increasingly becoming victims of the war's and conflicts resulting in tremendous mental stress to them. They are, thus, denied a happy and fulfilling childhood.
The children became primary victims of starvation and malnutrition in the under developed and poor nations in many parts of world and became victims of conflicts in war-torn and conflict ridden countries and states. Afghanistan, Yeman, Syria, Iraq, Palistine, Myanmar, Nigeria, Sudan, Kashmir and at many more places, children have been robbed of their childhood.
The UNICEF, in one of its reports goes on to say that “World has failed to protect children who fell victims of conflicts”. Nearly one in five children live in areas affected by armed conflicts and wars as per the latest report by Save the children organization. About 420 million children were living in conflict zones in the year 2017- the largest number of children in conflict regions at any time in the past 20 years.
Who could forget the horrible Peshawar school attack on 16 December 2014 by six armed gunmen who mercilessly butchered 149 people including 132 school children between the age of eight and eighteen years. It is one of the deadliest massacres in the modern history.
Talking in a global perspective, International Labour Organisation stated, in its world report on child labour (2013), that there were about 265 million children working as child labourers- an staggering 17% of world children population. In 2018 international labour organisation reported that there are about 152 million children victims of children labour working in hazardous and unhealthy conditions in different parts of world.
We have seen the brutal rape of a Kathua juvenile in Kashmir and many more cases of abuse as well in the state of Jammu and Kashmir as well. The decades old conflict as had direct as well as indirect repercussions for children living in this part of the world.
The world must recognize such chilling details and take measures to ensure that children are kept out of harm’s way!
The writer is a student of Kashmir University (firstname.lastname@example.org)