War Child

With all the conflict in the world today it’s hard to think that anyone is safe at all. That’s certainly the case with the thousands of children at the core of many battles that have been going on for the past two decades.

War affects children in all the ways it affects adults however, sometimes it is the younger generation who suffer more. First, children are dependent on the care, empathy, and attention of adults who love them. Their attachments are frequently disrupted in times of war, due to the loss of parents, extreme preoccupation of parents in protecting and finding subsistence for the family, and emotional unavailability of depressed or distracted parents. The child may be in substitute care with someone who cares for him or her only slightly – relatives or an orphanage. A certain proportion of war-affected children lose all adult protection. During the last decade, it is estimated that more than One million children have been orphaned or separated from their parents in the midst of war.

Secondly, the impacts of war in childhood may unfortunately affect the life trajectory of children far more than adults. Consider children who lose the opportunity for education during war, children who are forced to move into refugee or displaced person camps, where they wait for years in miserable circumstances for normal life to resume, if it ever does. Think of a child disabled in war; in addition to loss of a limb, sight, or cognitive capacity, they may also lose the opportunity of schooling and of a social life. A girl who is raped may be marginalized by her society and lose the opportunity for marriage.

The life of these children may never change, although there are a few lucky individuals whose lives have been uncovered and brought before our eyes, such as Malala Yousufzai, the teen activist who was shot by the Taliban for promoting Education for girls, if Malala not been shot perhaps the lack of education for young girls in Swat valley would not have been known. Also, Sharbat Gula, the refugee child caught in the midst of afghan bloodshed in the 1970s whose sea green eyes captivated the attention of the entire world, had it not been for her photograph maybe no one would have known what the war was like for a young soul like hers.

Many of these children are fortunate enough (although not entirely) to receive help and supplies and have their stories heard. But what of those unlucky children bound to a life of torture and depression?  Around 5 million Syrian children are currently in need of emergency supplies and help.

Such is the life of many, especially with the current war in Syria. Close to six million children have now been affected by the conflict in Syria. Many have lost everything – family, friends and homes. Children have been killed, orphaned or suffered life-changing injuries.

Since the beginning of the conflict, children have been the forgotten victims of Syria’s horrific war. Today, over 5 million children are in need of assistance, including over 1 million children who have sought refuge in neighbouring countries. Numerous Syrian children are suffering at the hands of the rebels at this very moment. The pain these young boys and girls have to go through at an early age is traumatising and certainly not for the faint hearted to hear about. Children as young as 5 are raped and beaten to death every day and there have been many cases in which the young ones have had their genitals electrocuted and have been suspended from ceilings and walls with fatal results.  According to ‘Save the children’ 1 in 3 Syrian children have been hit, kicked or shot at.

It seems as if part of humanity has lost its sense of what is morally acceptable and corruption and iniquitous deeds are on the rise effecting perhaps the younger generation the most. Many consider this to be an upcoming Armageddon of some sort, with the future generation being harmed and wiped out before it even fully begins.  These children are deprived of their basic human rights. According to the UN, human rights: Article 1 ‘All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.’ It is unfortunate to think that these children are born into slavery and a tragic life.

Also, article 5 of the decree of Human rights states that ‘No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment’ However, it seems that these basic rights have been taken away from these children and they are having to suffer the unthinkable.

Will the children of war ever live a peaceful life?  Will they ever see anything besides the billowing smoke from bombs and blood of loved ones? Will they ever live a life as lucky as ours? The question always remains, but it seems as if no one has ever thought to answer it.

Long after the wars have ended, these lives will never attain the potential they had before the impact of war. These children will unfortunately forever be scarred and damaged internally as well as externally and their lives will never move beyond the cries of help and the terrifying uproar of grenades and gunshots.