New 'Save the Children' report highlights infant casualties in war zones
In countries around the world, civilians are being savaged by war. Military conflicts - often fought only for pride or political gain - transform entire countries into war zones and turn civilians into casualties.
Furthermore, the situation is not getting better but worse. In fact, non-profit Save the Children have released a report exposing just how bleak the situation truly is. "It is shocking that, in the 21st century, we are going backwards on principles and moral standards that are so simple," said Helle Thorning-Schmidt, the chief executive of Save the Children International and former Danish prime minister.
"Children are bearing the horror of armed conflict," stated head of Save the Children UK Kevin Watkins, alluding to the staggering statistic - that 300 babies are killed in war zones every day - which was published in the report. In fact, half a million babies have been killed in war zones in the five years to 2017, according to Save the Children’s findings.
"Children and civilians should never be targeted," Thorning-Schmidt asserted, condemning the flouting of "international rules and norms". Meike Riebau of Save the Children Germany added: "It is unfortunately the case that the deliberate firing at children is partly used as a military ... tactic, because one knows that one can weaken the opponent very strongly. That is a finding that we have seen again here in this report."
However, a major global issue is also the refugee crises that wars create. “In Jordan and Lebanon, which together host more than 1.6 million Syrian refugees, every family I met had a harrowing story of escape from Syria and of life during the civil war,” stated Save the Children Australia CEO Paul Ronalds. “Whether it’s conflict in Yemen, Syria or the DRC, children are always the most affected.”
“They are the true victims of modern warfare,” added Ronalds, who had recently visited aid programmes helping Syrian refugees in Jordan and Lebanon where Save the Children is active. “It is an abomination to think that for every fighter killed in conflict, there are five innocent children killed by the impacts of war.” The non-profit is also responsible for “second a day” video, embedded below, which went viral in 2014.
“Today there are more children living in areas impacted by conflict than at any stage in the past two decades, while the scale of atrocities they face is increasing rapidly,” Ronalds continues. “It is appalling that in this day and age we are going backwards on principles and moral standards that are so simple - children and civilians should never be targeted, no matter what.”
“Parents talked of the impact on their children,” Ronalds added, “of lost childhoods and the immense risks faced just going to school back in Syria. In our Centenary year, Save the Children is asking: when will we stop the war on children?”
The report, entitled “Stop the War on Children” states: “Children are no longer just caught in the crossfire - they have become targets in wars raged by adults… Every war is a war against children.” The report adds: “Children are no longer just caught in the crossfire – they have become targets in wars raged by adults… Every war is a war against children.”
The report was compiled by the Peace Research Institute of Oslo and used UN data for the five years to 2017 and a study published in the journal The Lancet. It found that 550,000 infants had died "due to the reverberating impact of conflict" in that period.
The Syrian refugee crisis, and global reactions to it, has proven to be a trigger issue. Some countries welcomed refugees with open arms while others, perhaps out of fear or protectionism, kept their borders tightly shut.
Sadly, it is only when the human effects of war are perceived in a relatable way that opinions change. In the British tabloid press, the refugee crisis was treated with disdain until the body of a small boy washed ashore in Turkey in 2015.
Alan Kurdi was just three when he and his family sought the help of people smugglers and attempted to make their way, by boat, to the Greek Island of Kos. The boy, who could just as easily have been British rather than Syrian, was now the subject of sadness and empathy rather than fear and suspicion.
Despite the outpouring of emotion following the iconic image of Alan Kurdi’s lifeless body, wars, famine, drought and abuse still disproportionately affect children. There is hope, however, that Save the Children’s report will raise both money for and awareness of this important cause.