“In the last decade, the number of children killed in armed conflicts is estimated at 1.5 million. Another 4 million have been disabled, crippled, blinded or have suffered brain injuries. At least 5 million have become refugees and 12 million more have been uprooted from their communities. A much larger number have suffered a deterioration in their health, nutrition and education as a result of the destruction of crops, infrastructure, health centers and schools due to armed conflicts around the world” (from the Network for Children’s Human Rights in Mexico).
In 1982, in an emergency session on the question of Palestine, the UN General Assembly, “appalled at the large number of Palestinian and Lebanese children who have been innocent victims of Israel’s acts of aggression” declared June 4 as the International Day of Innocent Child Victims of Aggression. The purpose was to make visible children around the world who are victims of physical, mental and emotional abuse.
Although attacks on minors are prohibited in the laws of war, the reality is that they end up being the sector of the population that suffers the most. In addition to being exposed to sexual violence, kidnappings and killings, many children are recruited as soldiers and others are left without any kind of humanitarian aid. According to UNICEF, about half of the 3.6 million people who have died in conflicts since 1990 were minors and hundreds of thousands of children have been forced to witness or participate in violence. Furthermore, many of them are forced to become sex slaves, or to be servants, messengers, or spies.
The UN has focused on the future of children in its Agenda for Sustainable Development. Among its Goals for 2030 is a specific goal, 16.2, focused on them: putting an end to mistreatment, exploitation, trafficking and all forms of violence and torture against children.