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Consequences of violence on physical, social and psychological development of children

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By : Dr. Deepali Devi
The introduction of the UN Study of the impact of armed conflict on children led by Grace Machel, expert of the Secretary General of the United Nations has emphasized the millions of children who are caught up in conflict in which “They are not merely by standards but deliberate targets”. They are slaughtered raped, maimed, expiated starved and expose to brutality as Grace Machel has said. “Nothing is spared, held sacred or protected”. It is the singular characteristic of armed conflict of our time that children suffer most. In the study of Grace Machel presented to United Nations General Assembly in 1996 there was an estimated two million children in last one decade who fell victim to the armed conflict…… twelve million children are living in countries other then their home countries as refugees. An equally sizeable number of children suffer from malnutrition, physical deformities other type of deficiencies, crippled have been made sightless or speechless. These children being deprived from their parental affection, care and security of home environment deprived from their family ties, they have become a vulnerable group of children who may have to face a lot of future problems mentally, physically and socio-economically. Another big group has to lead their lives at the mercy of their relatives or on the street as street children whom the society also tries to neglect.
On 20th Nov. 1989 the convention on the rights of the child was drafted by the UN commission of Human Rights and adopted by the UN General Assembly. A set of International standards and measures were laid down to protest the lives and to promote the well being of the children of the society. After two years of research and field visits consultation Grace Machel the secretary General expert on the subject and a former education Minister in Mozembique submitted a report titled “The impact of Armed conflict on children” to the 1996 General Assembly. The reports most fundamental premise is that children simply have no part in warfare. It reveals the full extent of children’s involvement in armed conflicts raging around the world and formula test its  findings and recommendations aimed at government, intergovernmental and regional bodies, non governmental organizations and individuals.
The wounds infected by armed conflict on children physical injury, gender-based violence, psychosocial trauma and emotional injury. The concomitant disruption of food supply destruction of crops and agricultural infrastructure, broken homes, broken families, destruction of educational facilities, health service facilities water scarcity, in sanitation all take a heavy toll an children. As quoted at the state of the world’s children UNICEF 1996 one of the most distressing realities of our time is that most wars have faught in precisely those countries that could least afford them. Even if they have never seen a gun, millions of children suffer from wars as resources that could have been invested in development are verted in to armaments.
Health & Nutrition hazards:
Thousands of children are killed every where every year as a direct result of war, armed conflict, knife, bullets, bombs and landmines. The landmines in Vietnam maimed hundreds and thousands of people including children’s. In  Mozambique alone between 1981 to 1988, 454,000 children died due to direct hit in the ear. At the height of the conflict of Somalia more than half of the dead children were victims of measles, diarrhoea and fever. Cholera is a constant threat in refugee camps in Nepal, Bangladesh, Kenya, Somalia and Ziare. As per WHO survey, half of the world’s refugees may be victims of Tuberculosis, Malaria, Respiratory tract infection, Cholera etc. which may prove fatal. Because of disruption of food supply & potable water many children become victims of malnutrition, starvation, dehydration ultimate fate is death. In a refugee camp whatever basic amenities are delivered, the grown up adults become amenities are delivered the grown up adults become so crazy that they neglect the health of their children. As such child mortality at such places are notably high. Even the mothers become scared to breast feed her infant child last they die of starvation themselves by feeding their child. As such mothers wilfully neglect their breastfed children as they donot want to part with their milk in apprehension that breast feeding may cause their death.
Along with their body the conflict-tarn children suffer psychologically too. For increasing number of children living in war-torn nations childhood has become a night marish experience. Armed conflicts destroy homes, disintegrate families, spinsters communities, destroys trust and inculeaties a  pervasive sense of insecurities. Seeing their parents being murdered and tortured, raped and maimed the child is psyche is severely traumatized never to be mended again. Their minds suffer from increased anxiety, depression even their sleep may be disturbed by fear and nightmare. Older children cannot bear this burst of anxiety and aggregation and   they become depressed, despondent or even may develop aggressive behaviour.
As such when such wars, conflict, racial clash break up it is the moral duty of the society to find ways and means to protect the children. Our future generation, Archbishop Desmend  Tutu has very rightly commented that “we want a society where people are more important than things, children are more precious, a world where people can be more human, caring and gentle” claiming children as Zones of peace has become an important concept of humanitarian relief programmes. All warring parties should be committed to this principle, warring countries like Afganistan. Suden and others above 80 percent in case of “operation life line Suden” arrangements were made for “Corridors of peace” so that relief supplies, medicine and vaccines could be delivered during relative lulls in the conflict.    

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