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Waging a war on children means to waging a war on future

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Waging a war on children means to waging a war on future

By: M.R. Lalu
Efforts to strike a truce between Israel and Hamas have failed multiple times. Death toll has been mounting ever since Israel began its offensive. There has been complete disregard for human sentiments. Civilian lives and safety have been seriously impacted and thousands of children were forced to look up for help and hope with the world becoming a mute spectator. Undoubtedly, wars are disastrous. That’s how it can be defined. The quantum of bloodshed and disaster get them a place in the pages of history. And nobody can ultimately say for what wars are fought and who gains out of the bloodshed. But the calamitous impact of all conflicts stays for a long period until people who suffered roll back to normalcy. From Ukraine to Gaza and from Sudan to Myanmar and elsewhere on the globe, wars are equally vigorous as millions have so far been buried under the rubbles of mansions and many more turning orphans and thrown into perils. Why do wars bring long term horror to those who survive its grave violations?  This is because most of the human right violations target innocent children and women. And they are the segment of society that carries the collective memory of ruthless invasions and bloodshed for generations. Their susceptibility is that they are non-combatants and easily targetable.  This is the case with all wars that began to shake up the human conscience recently.
Organizations that are enforcing the need of protecting human rights, especially that of the children, cry against the ‘grave violations’ of wars.  The UN has come out with startling revelations on the drastic horror being carried out on children in its latest report. Antonio Guterres, the UN secretary general calls it shocking and unforgivable. The number of children affected by the horrible impact of the Gaza war is alarming. He calls them the disproportionately affected and the most vulnerable. Warning the world for its far-reaching effects he says that the atrocities include rape, sexual violence, recruitment of child soldiers and abductions. The Secretary General’s report also says that out of 27800 violations against 18890 children in 2022, about 8630 were either killed or mutilated and 7622 children got illicitly recruited to militant establishments and approximately 3985 children were abducted. The global scenario is so precarious that instead of receiving protection, children are made victims and punished for the reason they occupy less space of authority in a world of inhuman conflicts. Children were treated heartlessly as they belonged to any side of the parties in conflict.
A United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) report points out that the number of grave violations inflicted on children are increasing daily in troubled areas of Congo, Palestine, Israel, Sudan and Somalia. While hundreds of children were killed in Sudan, more than a million got displaced. Another report says that more than 3 million children and adolescents were victims in Columbia due to recruitment, kidnapping, forced disappearance, murder and sexual violence. Russia is accused of illegally abducting thousands of children after its invasion of Ukraine in 2022. This atrocious inhuman act of the offender not only destroyed families and societies but also eradicated a generation. Most of such unbelievable, emotional and psychological damage to people and societies stay for a long period. The frequent ceasefire failure between Israel and Hamas has caused brutal bloodshed of children and women. Though wars do not directly target children, the horror of each war finally makes their life a hell. International laws demand children’s protection while wars and their raging destruction cause colossal damage. But unfortunately, such laws get blown into smithereens ruthlessly pushing children into horrible scenarios. The UN reveals statistics of brutality that breaks all conventional understanding of violence. Impartially verifying the statistics, it puts a discomfiting picture of barbarity.
Staggeringly, another report brings a horrible account of human ruthlessness about the Israel- Palestine conflict. It says that more than 11500 Palestinians under 18 years have been killed by the Israeli aggression and about 24000 children have lost one or both parents. Many children have also been reported as recruited to military and militant groups with the purpose of using them in wars. They are directly used in combat operations and as support forces. Islamic radicalism has been flourishing all over the world through a large number of child recruits being well trained and employed in armed combat operations. International Human right laws proclaim 18 as the minimum legal age for recruitment and use of children in hostilities. But laws have often been disregarded and abysmally disabled by groups that are engaged in conflicts. Use of children under the age of 15 is not only prohibited but the International law defines it as a war crime. So what happens in regions that are engaged in armed conflicts amounts to be seen as war crimes.  But their brutal enforcement of horror remains merely labeled as war crimes and the international community totally mute and emasculated. UNICEF says the war crimes on children severely impact their mental health. The alarming reality of it is that more than a million children suffered in the Israel – Palestine conflict needs support. They have been forced to suffer perennial symptoms of persistent anxiety, loss of appetite and sleeplessness. Their outbursts of panic as they hear the bombings increase their predicament, it says.
It is not necessary that there should be wars to the magnitude of Russia- Ukraine and Israel-Palestine for the children to get abducted and raped and used for violent acts. Children are frequently abducted and weaponized by armed groups and terrorists and gangs. Another UN data says more than 105,000 children, both boys and girls, were used in violent conflicts between 2005 and 2022. As wars emerge afresh, a disturbing paradox potentially troubles the literal civility among societies and countries. Between conflicting groups and countries, wars are not always fought for a sudden political outcome, but with an indubitable purpose of altering the geopolitical alignments and dismantling the cultural frameworks. This is mainly due to the annihilation of a large segment of population or its permanent displacement.  The worst authoritarian regimes across the globe that found solutions for every single conflict through wars and bloodshed had this fundamentalist view of finding joy in destroying the cultural threads that ran through the younger generations. Wiping out an aspirational generation of their greater goals and seamless possibilities, the impact of wars would adversely affect the trajectory of life forever. Disabled, orphaned or displaced in wars, children would drastically find themselves marginalized everywhere. Sadly, there could be an endless list of adversities that wars can bring on children. Death, injury, disability, illness, psychological suffering, rape and prostitution and many more such obvious situations would cripple their lives. Endless sea of sufferings would turn them into a colossal representation of brutality. Humanitarian responses need to emerge as inhuman atrocities on children keep mounting in every conflict. Human minds need to evolve from conflicts to compassion and there should be clear alternatives to wars. It is so shocking to count the death toll of innocent children in wars that are fought between adults and nations. Wars have to stop, if not, at least, the children should be allowed to capture the glimpse of their future without any calamitous outrage of war befalling on them. Waging a war on children means to wage a war on our future.
(The author is a Freelance Journalist)


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Imphal Times is a daily English newspaper published in Imphal and is registered with Registrar of the Newspapers for India with Regd. No MANENG/2013/51092


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