Violence Against Children in Wars and Conflicts

ChildrenIn the last three months, the news of children and young people targeted by various groups in wars and violent conflicts has been heartrending. From South Sudan to Syria; Nigeria to Myanmar; Somalia to DR Congo; Palestine to Afghanistan to Pakistan—these are just but a few of the areas affected.

In almost all wars now, it is clear that children carry the most burden. In South Sudan and Syria, majority of those displaced or killed are children. In Nigeria, criminals walk into schools and herd-off hundreds of girls into slavery. In many other places children are the choice conscripts for terrorists’ gangs. Some governments are still using children in fighting wars. Yet governments exist in these places to protect them.

Why should children suffer for that which they are not party to? Why should they pay the ultimate price for our power struggles? These atrocious actions by those responsible for the current situation in South Sudan, Syria, Somalia, Nigeria, DR Congo, Palestine and other countries cannot escape our collective responsibility.

Apart from basic needs, children deserve to enjoy their rights. How do we ensure that this is the case? How do we prevent ‘small’ unresolved disagreements from advancing to wars that cause so much pain to people? How can we reduce or stop the growing tensions and puritanical tendencies leading to exclusivist identities causing belligerence and violence? How can we stop the selective, partial and literalist discourses that are leading to increasing use of religious texts and concepts to legitimise alienation, discrimination and violence?

I do not know the plans that nations’ and the international community have – what I do know is that we are slowly witnessing an increase in the levels of war and violence across the globe. We must go for that which can bring about security for all; the innocent and our children, which is PEACE.

We can find the collective will and genius to confront wars and violence if only we know what true peace is. Children do. Instead of violating and killing them for our greed, hatred and ignorance, let us ask them what peace is. If we are afraid to ask them, then let us observe how they live together in diversity. We might find answers.

Dr. Mustafa Ali,

Pax Christi International Board Member

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s