Mitigating armed conflict casualties in children

30 November, 2020

We know that children suffer severely in armed conflict - often worse than any other members of society, despite being the least responsible.

The extent to which children are targeted in warfare is less well known, and is revealed in a paper now available in pre-publication format in the journal Pediatrics

Two paragraphs from the paper highlight some of the tragic impacts on children in two theatres of war -

‘Indiscriminate use of arms, lack of accountability and deliberate targeting of civilian populated areas increase risks to children. In 2015, among 1953 casualties in children reported by the UN in Yemen, 60% were due to airstrikes1 with armament manufactured by the US, UK, and other allies. Yet the US government curtailed training in precision targeting for coalition pilots flying over Yemen. Subsequently, a school bus with over 40 children was bombed. In 2019, 12% of the 1447 child casualties in Yemen were from airstrikes.

In 2019 Syrian and Russian forces targeted civilian populations, with air attacks on medical and other civilian facilities over an area the size of Luxembourg in Idlib, terrorizing civilians. Among the 1454 child casualties in Syria, 35% were from airstrikes. In addition, according to the UN, non-state actors in Yemen and Syria, working with outside states, restricted access to humanitarian care and demanded payments from fleeing civilians, among other human right abuses.’

The paper is written by ISSOP members Tom Adamkiewicz and Jeff Goldhagen following the ISSOP congress on children in armed conflict in Beirut in 2019.

The paper should be brought to the attention of all members of governments of countries involved in arms sales and also to the media since it demonstrates the crimes these governments are committing in many countries of the world.

Tony Waterston

CHIFA profile: Tony Waterston is a retired consultant paediatrician who worked mainly in the community in Newcastle upon Tyne, UK. He spent 6 years working in Zambia and Zimbabwe and directed the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health Diploma in Palestinian Child Health teaching programme in the occupied Palestinian territories. He was an Editor of the Journal of Tropical Pediatrics and is on the Executive Committee of the International Society for Social Pediatrics. His academic interests are child poverty, advocacy for child health and children's rights. He is currently the lead moderator of CHIFA He is also a member of the HIFA Steering Group.

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