Conflicts and crises in Africa: children rights protection for all

In June 1976, more than 100 young people (boys and girls) were killed and more than 1000 young people (boys and girls) were injured by the security forces in Soweto, South Africa. The Day of the African Child has been celebrated on 16th June, every year, for 25 years on the initiative of the African Unity Organisation (named today the African Union). 

Today, wars, crises, or military conflicts put thousands of children in Africa at risk, making them more vulnerable than they should be.  These military conflicts and the accompanying violence seriously affect children’s lives. About 2 million children were killed in military conflicts with more than one million orphaned and more than 6 million seriously injured or permanently disabled. [1] According to the United Nations, about 300.000 young people under 18 years are actively committed to the military forces as attested by this 16 years old child in CAR:

“My name is Abdou, I am 16 years old and I was part of the Antibalaka for one year. I joined the militia because the opposing forces, Seleka, killed my 2 favorite uncles within 2 days of each other.”

About 800 children are killed or seriously injured every month through the mines and the explosives used in the conflict in CAR. [2] Moreover, it is reported that an estimated 12 million children have been displace due to military conflicts[3]. Oumarou in Niger, is one of these children:

“My name is Oumarou and I am 12 years old. I have been living in the Sayam refugee camp for more than one year. I was in detention with the BH for 2 months and 3 days. Several people who tried to escape were shot including women. But one day with my grandfather’s help, I escaped to find myself here.”

Children from CAR, Mali, Niger, countries where World Vision operates, are included in the millions of children displaced.

Military conflicts and violence seriously affect the lives of children. Apart from suffering the direct consequences such as recruitment into military groups and physical injuries, they also suffer indirectly, being displaced, losing close relatives and being traumatized by the gruesome acts of violence they witness. 

Their inalienable rights are violated, especially the right to life, the right to live in a family environment, the right to health and the right to survival and development.

  • In military conflict or peace times, children have the right to protection; they have the right to live free of violence and exploitation, and to “a secure and favourable environment.” The protection of children’s rights and protection against serious harm from military conflicts is a priority. As an organisation, World Vision in West Africa is striving to this end. Through its response interventions in emergencies such as CAR, Niger, and Mali, World Vision has worked to provide education, nutrition and child friendly spaces to alleviate the strife of these children and to ensure their rights aren’t trampled on. We therefore appeal to all the families, communities, organizations and partnerships to make child protection a priority. World Vision calls on governments to redouble efforts to protect all children from violence and those who have suffered abuse and violence must be provided with the appropriate care, including psychosocial support.  The international community must urgently resume focus on the emergencies affecting children in CAR, Mali, Diffa and the Lake Chad Basin. The World cannot afford to forget the children living in these parts of the world.

 

Contact Person:

Catherine Demba

Child Protection and Participation Specialist, World Vision West Africa

Email: catherine_demba@wvi.org

Mobile: +221786370156


[1] Duncan, J. (2004).  Children in crisis:good practices in evaluating psychosocial programming.The International Psychosocial Evaluation Committee and Save the Children Federation, Inc., p. 1

[2] Ibid.

[3] Hart, J (2002) Children and Adolescents in Conflict Situation available at:http://www.forcedmigration.org/research-resources/expert-guides/children-and-adolescents-in-conflict-situations/alldocuments (accessed 12 January 2016)