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SA must do more to help protect children affected by conflict

Friday 14 February 2020
Save the Children calls on South Africa to use its non-permanent seat at the United Nations’ Security Council and its African Union Chairmanship to push for the protection of children affected by armed conflict. 
A new Save the Children report entitled Stop the War on Children 2020: Gender Matters, has revealed that armed conflicts are intensifying and becoming increasingly dangerous for children. In Africa, one in four children are living in conflict-affected areas, and they face the greatest risk of serious violence since systematic records began. The number of reported grave violations—the worst crimes committed against children—has increased. Today, children living in conflict zones are more likely to be killed or maimed, recruited, abducted, sexually abused, see their schools attacked, or have aid denied to them.
“The South African government has a unique opportunity through their standing in the United Nations and the African Union to protect children living in conflict zones. The effects of conflict on children are multiple and wide-ranging. It shapes their physical, mental and psychosocial development, affecting their future, as well the future of our Continent. So it is in everyone’s interest, including South Africa’s, for us to end these senseless wars” says Save the Children South Africa’s CEO Steve Miller. 
At least 12,125 children were either killed or injured by conflict-related violence in 2018 alone, a rise of 13 percent compared with the reported total the year before, with Afghanistan being the most dangerous country for children. The number of reported attacks on schools and hospitals also increased to 1,892, a rise of 32 percent compared to the previous year. 
In its report, Save the Children states that the only way to stop the war on children is for governments and other parties to adopt and implement action plans to address the suffering of children and support their recovery in the ground.
                                                           NOTES TO EDITOR
- The Stop the War on Children report includes the most comprehensive collection of data on the number of children living in conflict-affected areas. It reveals that the ten worst countries for children living in conflict remain the same as 2017: Afghanistan, Yemen, South Sudan, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Syria, Iraq, Mali, Nigeria and Somalia.

- The report has been informed by background reports by PRIO (Peace Research Institute Oslo) on number of children living in conflict zones, and by Proteknon, on gender and conflict. 

- Syria comes out as particularly bad for children, with high numbers of grave violations against children and 99 % of children living in areas affected by conflict. Conflict is also worsening for children living in Afghanistan, Somalia and Nigeria, which respectively have the highest figures for the killing and maiming, sexual violence, and the recruitment and use of children by armed forces or armed groups.
- In 2018, slightly less children lived in conflict affected areas than the year before (415 million against 429 million in 2017. 149 million of them lived in High intensity conflict zones, which are areas where more than 1,000 battle-related deaths are recorded in a year. 
For more information or to set up interviews contact: Sibusiso Khasa on 073 449 6871 or [email protected]
About: Save the Children believes every child deserves a future. In South Africa and around the world, we give children a healthy start in life, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm. We do whatever it takes for children – every day and in times of crisis – transforming their lives and the future we share.